Do you think that the world owes you something regardless of your effort or abilities? The prosperity of the late 20th century gave many parents the notion that they should make sure that their children never had to struggle in the way that previous generations did. What grew out of a well-intentioned impulse to make life easier actually led to a steep increase in entitlement. Reward was disconnected from effort and replaced with a new mantra: “You owe me. … my cell phone, a nice car, a high-paying job.” Entitlement has worked into every part of our society, among young and old, rich and poor.
Those are most enmeshed in entitlement are extremely protective of their personal happiness. They feel an exaggerated sense of self-importance often believing themselves more talented or qualified than they really are. They lack an ability to compromise and work towards shared solutions because it is next to impossible to let go of what they consider a basic human right of self-expression. Thinking that they should be admired and respected they are quickly offended by that person who suggests that they are, in fact, ordinary human beings who need to earn their place in the world.
Christian, is your Christianity marred by a sense of entitlement?
When you pray, is it to commune with God, to become wise in His ways,
or do you mostly pray “bless me, Jesus” prayers for a better life?
Entitled Christians are not able to recognize the goodness of God. They are almost completely incapable of true worship or sincere thanks.
And there is this – ingratitude is a fertile soil that nourishes spiritual rebellion! In the first chapter of Romans, the desperate state of depraved humanity is outlined with an ugly recital of sin. Where does it all begin? “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21, NIV) Mistakenly thinking, God owes me happiness, He owes me a life without struggle, turns me into an entitled people who demands more. Ungratefulness makes me more and more Self-centered, increases my doubt about the goodness of the Lord, and eventually twists me into a bitter cynic. In that place, I lose out on the life-enriching fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
Christian, this short phrase is more than a slogan; it’s a life principle. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NKJV) Thankfulness expands our capacity to love – both God and others. Let me ask a hard question – are you humble enough to be grateful? God owes us nothing yet provides, in His love, all things for our good. He loves us while we are ignoring Him. He entered a broken world to die for us on the Cross when we were full of Self. He pursues us when we go our own way.
Confronting our pride and entitlement, the truth of Scripture reminds us that “God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT)
Let’s invite the Spirit to show us where we are acting as if God owes us and repent. Peter teaches us the way of the humble. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6, NIV) In that humility we learn to accept the good gifts of the Lord. We learn to be steady in faith when times are bad. And, we enjoy the best gifts of the Lord rather than those we think He should provide for us.
Let’s cultivate real gratitude. If we wait for it to just ‘show up’ in our lives, we will die feeling God and the world owes us more! But, if we humble ourselves, take note of His faithfulness often as well as the goodness of others, we to give and receive from hearts made noble by the Lord’s work in us.
Here’s a word from the Word. “Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20, NIV) “Thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. ” (Psalm 107:8-9, The Message)
With a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son
And now let the weak say
I am strong
Let the poor say
I am rich
Because of what
The Lord has done for us
© 1978 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055