Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sense of Entitlement

Have you lately encountered anybody who feels entitled?  Entitlement is a feeling that you deserve good things because of something special that you have done or because of something special that you are.  I've heard older people complaining that "young people today" have a sense of entitlement.  I've heard those who have plenty accusing those who have less of feeling entitled to a handout.  It seems that "entitlement" is a buzz word these days.  But I find it's also the people who are in a position of privilege who resent it when those who aren't in power begin to feel that they deserve something.  I want to ask, "What about the entitlement of the elite--those who feel that they're better, simply because they have position and power--and that because they're better, they deserve even more?"

In Luke's Gospel, a foreign officer came to Jesus the Masger to heal his servant.  He was was well-off, powerful, and carried the authority of the sword and Roman eagle.

When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us (Luke 7:3-5 NLT).”

This officer was wealthy enough that he funded the building of a synagogue.  The people felt he was entitled to a miracle because of his wealth, which had resulted in his prominent and public gift.

Over the decades that I pastored churches, I encountered people who had a sense of entitlement when it came to God's favor.  They felt that they deserved God's blessing because they'd given generously to the church.  Maybe they'd put a steeple on the building, paved the parking lot, or built an extension to the campus.  Others felt entitled because they'd served the church faithfully and selflessly through the years.  Some felt they deserved blessing.  Others felt they deserved recognition and power.  But God prefers humility and a tender spirit.

It turns out Jesus did heal the centurion's servant--not because he was good, but because Jesus was good.  And that's a point to remember, the next time you feel a sense of entitlement creeping up in your own spirit.  Humans operate on a principle of what we earn and what we deserve.  God operates on a principle of grace.  Grace means God gives because of the overflow of God's generosity and love.  To be a person of grace means that I receive God's blessing knowing that I haven't earned it.  And then I care for people not because they deserve it, but because they are children of God.

Entitlement grasps to gain and hold.  Grace holds loosely, with open hands because it trusts in the goodness of a bountiful Love.  Today, I choose to remember my place.  I choose to be humble.  And I choose to receive and give God's blessing to others, which is a free gift, and never earned.  I hope you'll choose the same.

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