What Does The Bible Say About Expectations

When it comes to expectations, the Bible delves deep into the human heart and speaks to our truest motivations. It says that, in life, expectations should be realistic, reasonable and reasonable demands should be made.

The Bible teaches that expectations are at the root of human emotions and behavior. A good example is the passage in Proverbs 29:18: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ This is a reference to having an orderly, reasonable set of expectations. In order to be fulfilled, reasonable expectations must be mutual – both parties must agree to the outcome. This point is also seen in Ecclesiastes 5:4: ‘When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.’

The Bible also emphasizes that it is a danger to set expectations that are too high. In Luke 12:48, it says: ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ This encourages us to be conscious of the expectations we set, so we don’t expect more than is humanly possible – and so that we don’t become overwhelmed with demands when we can’t meet them.

The Bible stresses that expectations should be tempered by perspective. In Colossians 3:12-14, it outlines a set of expectations: ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen one, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ This encourages us to think critically about our expectations, by trying to foster a sense of understanding, patience, and forgiveness.

The Bible also cautions us on basing expectations on material possessions. Matthew 19:16-24 tells the story of the rich young man, who had expectations of a life built on his material possessions, only to be humbled when Jesus asked him to get rid of them. Jesus encourages us to be wise with our expectations and actively pursue non-material goals.

Finally, the Bible encourages us to emphasize relationships when it comes to expectations. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, it says: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’ This suggests that setting expectations on how we treat others should be paramount.


From these scriptures, it is clear that the Bible teaches us to evaluate our expectations in life. It encourages us to be reasonable in our demands, to put relationships before material possessions, and to be forgiving when necessary. By finding balance and being mindful of what we expect from ourselves and from others, we can live balanced and fulfilling lives.

Relationships With Others

The Bible places a great emphasis on how we relate to each other. The New Testament speaks of love, faith, and trust being fundamental to a healthy relationship with one’s God and with each other. Expectations of fairness and justice, communication and mutual respect, honesty, and give-and-take, are foundational requisites in any healthy relationship. Therefore, expectations of others must reflect our values and our love for them.

Ephesians 4:2-3 specifically calls on believers to “lead a life worthy of your calling, one that is humble and gentle and patient, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit with peace.” By seeing ourselves and each other in the light of love and mutual respect, expectations can be dynamic rather than static.

Through seeing each other through the lens of faith, both parties might then be guided more effectively towards a more harmonious relationship, with both having more realistic expectations, by being more understanding and respectful of each other’s needs, perspectives, and capacity for change.

The Bible emphasizes that, in relationships, expectations must always be tempered and balanced with empathy, understanding, and respect for each other’s autonomy. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 13:7, it says: ‘Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ Here, expectations in relationships must be based on trust and hope, knowing that God will take care of the rest.

Self-Discipline and Patience

The Bible states that self-discipline and patience are also important aspects of achieving expectations. For example, Proverbs 16:9 says: ‘In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord determines their steps.’ This implies that, while it is important to set goals, it is vital that we keep our expectations realistic, since no one knows what will happen in the future.

Likewise, the Bible tells us to trust God’s timing in Ecclesiastes 3:11, which says, ‘He has made everything beautiful for its own time.’ We need to be patient and accept that, although we have expectations, we have to let God be in control.

Similarly, the Bible encourages us to view our expectations through the lens of faith and surrender, trusting that God has our best interests at heart. James 1:2-4 says: ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ This encourages us to take a leap of faith and accept that God is sovereign.

Finally, the Bible challenges us to be intentional about our expectations, so that we are open to resets and new goals. Through humility and surrender, and by living in Spirit-led expectation, expectations can form a healthy lifestyle that places trust in God and His perfect timing.

Humility and Self-Sacrifice

The Bible also calls on us to be humble when it comes to expectations, recognizing that we may have to make sacrifices in order to obtain our goals. In Philippians 2:3-5, it says: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.’ This speaks to the importance of humility when we set expectations for ourselves and for others.

Similarly, Jesus calls us to be willing to take up our cross, and to be willing to sacrifice in order to serve and obey Him. The Bible’s version of humility also involves being willing to follow Him, even if it means making sacrifices and giving our own desires – even “perfect” expectations – away from Him. Mark 10:45 states, ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Furthermore, in John 13:34-35, Jesus commands us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This implies an expectation of us to love and respect each other, just as we have been loved by Jesus.

Finally, the Bible encourages us to trust that God will make the most of our efforts and our expectations. 1 Peter 5:7 states, ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ This speaks to the importance of trusting God’s will in our lives, when we are faced with situations beyond our control.

Making Time for Rest and Rejuvenation

The Bible emphasizes the importance of rest and Sabbath in our lives. In Genesis 2:3, it says: ‘God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that He had done.’ Moreover, in Exodus 20:8-11, God commands, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”

This speaks to the importance of taking a break from working to allow ourselves time to rest and recharge. It also encourages us to view our expectations within the context of a God-given balance, of honoring our need for rest and allowing ourselves space and time to reexamine our goals, reframe them and reset them if needed.

The Bible reminds us of the importance of being intentional about our expectations and how setting goals is part of the human experience. However, it also encourages us to view our goals from a spiritual perspective, urging us to practice our faith by putting relationships and service to others above attainable goals, and to put our trust in God, knowing that He will bring forth the best in our lives.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

Leave a Comment