Entitlement – What prevents it?
Any disappointment in your family from a gift not received this Christmas? We’ve all been there if we’re not there now. Judah points us to God’s truth teaching us God gives everything we need…which isn’t always everything we want. Thankfully!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
At the age of 14, I was convinced I needed a cell phone. My friends all had cell phones, so why couldn’t I? It wasn’t fair. After all, I was a “better” kid than my friends, more obedient, more responsible… so I deserved the phone even more than they did. However, my parents’ perspective was different.
At the time I thought my frustration was justified, but I now realize I had a false sense of entitlement. This is natural for humans, and not just teenagers. Even as an adult I struggle with constantly feeling as if I deserve “the best”.
Here are a few scriptural approaches I have found to be helpful in combating my sense of entitlement:
- Understand who we are, and what we really deserve. Romans 3:23 clearly states that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. The word “all” includes both you and me. It’s not easy owning the title of sinner, but Romans 6:23 may be a little harder of a pill to swallow, clarifying “the wages of sin is death”. Talk about a reality check. The only thing we are entitled to is the penalty for our sins, and I myself do not plan on demanding to receive what is owed me. Understanding who we are and what we deserve is not meant to discourage, but instead to encourage. Check out the second step and you’ll see why.
- Give thanks… in ALL things. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances”. This is something I find difficult to do when it doesn’t feel like I am getting what I deserve. However, if I am in a place of understanding I am a sinner who is deserving of the penalty for my sin, I have much reason to be thankful. By giving thanks we can reposition our focus to that of being grateful for what we have, rather than disappointed in what we lack.
- Evaluate… our needs vs. our wants. As I mentioned earlier, my parents’ perspective about the cell phone was quite different than mine. I thought I needed one, but really it was all about WANTING one. We are not entitled to receive all of our wants; thankfully we can find security in knowing “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). However, the key here is to ensure we aren’t getting caught up in the assumption that we need everything we want.
An entitlement mentality diminishes the significance of what God has already done for us. We must keep our attitude in check, constantly reminding ourselves, and others, of the freedom we have from what we really deserve.
What is the most important thing you’ve been given? Did you deserve it? What is the greatest gift God gave us? Did we deserve it?