SEEK GRACE OVER ENTITLEMENT

Nov
2019
02

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“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

There are times when an overarching theme seems to exist in the news headlines of the day. Such was the case recently when I was watching a clip about the college admission scandals where the rich are buying acceptances into elite colleges for their children. It was followed by a story about a politician whose campaign centers on a proposal of right to free healthcare for all, regardless of citizenship. Later I heard a discussion on the pros and cons of paying college athletes, based on the revenues they help to generate. Regardless of how one might feel on these issues, together they impose a pervasive attitude on our society. That is to say . . . a sense of entitlement. Entitlement exists when an individual gets a false impression that they deserve more than they really do. Each and every day, we are bombarded with both business and government entitlement messages. Each one is engrained in our culture and absorbed into virtually every fabric of our lives. If you are old enough, you will recall a jingle from a well-known fast food chain “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonalds.”  This continues to be the message . . . you deserve it, and you should have it!

Unfortunately, this ‘entitlement mindset’ has become firmly planted in many of our thoughts and, at times, has even become seeded into our relationship with God. Entitlement creates an inward, self-centered person. We become the focus and the means to an end, and God can become reduced to someone who helps us get what we believe we are entitled to. The measure of our thankfulness and closeness to God is then based on His performance, resulting from the entitlements we expect from Him. Cling to the promise that God loves you, even when you don’t get what you desperately want. Scripture warns us: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). The Good News is that even though God owes us nothing, He will give us what we need out of His great love. This occurs not because we are entitled, but instead, it flows from the unconditional love and grace He gives. We can rest content in what He chooses to give as well as what he chooses to withhold.   We should frequently pause to ask and reflect on the answers to these questions: What is a right, and what is a privilege? What is deserved, and what is grace?

In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells the story of two brothers, the youngest of whom asks his still-living rich father for the entitled share of his inheritance. Then he wastes it on wild living, becomes impoverished, and wonders if his father might receive him as a servant so he could at least survive. His father not only takes him back but welcomes him lovingly with open arms. He demands that his servants throw an enormous feast to celebrate the fact his lost son has returned. Then we meet the older son who comes home to the sounds of music and dancing honoring his estranged brother. Upset and angry, he won’t even enter the house feeling that he is entitled to better treatment since he is the one who has been faithful. Just as our Heavenly Father is there for us when we come home, the wayward son is given a renewed place.  If the ‘prodigal son’ had lived where he was offered government entitlements – he may have never again returned home, broken and repentant. He would have missed the opportunity to be received back into the arms of a loving father who is personified to all of us as the God of second chances.

Entitlement isn’t just a feeling.  It is real, and each of us has been guilty of it. Our reaction will determine if we live with a servant’s heart or an attitude of privilege. We cross the line of entitlement when we pursue our own agenda without first pausing to consider the impact it might have on others. When we lose our sense of compassion for those around us, we should recognize that what we think we deserve just might be coming at their expense. The answer to getting over our issues of entitlement is to develop a humble sense of gratitude, offering it to the One who has given us more that we could ever ask or imagine. The Apostle Paul understood this necessity: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Humility and the willingness to give up our rights are not prized virtues in our world, but they are stunningly beautiful to Christ. Seek grace over entitlement every time, and you will indeed be blessed.

REFLECTION: In what areas of my life am I discontent? What do I think I need in order to experience an abundant life? How can we recognize my own sense of entitlement and take steps to surrender it to God?

A NEW LOOKUP  DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT., NOVEMBER 9 , 2019. COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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