Because I certainly believe it is one of the most damning things in our age!
1 a : the state or condition of being entitled : right
1b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
3 : belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privilegesThis past Sunday I had the opportunity to share a message from Jonah 4 – (if you have any desire to listen; CLICK HERE & you can download it; “Running Ahead of God” June 6) which talks about a battle between Jonah and God over a few different things, but in reality it was over ONE thing – Jonah’s ATTITUDE! His attitude stunk because it was full on focused on nothing but HIMSELF. As I studied this passage I became fully aware of how Jonah was filled with an attitude of “ENTITLEMENT”.
This struck me heavily as I’ve seen this play out countless times in my own life and with people in our day and age. I shared a brief story in my message on Sunday about a young lady with whom I attended high school. When she turned 16 (you know the age where everyone DESERVES a brand new car today!) she got the obligatory new car, the only problem was it wasn’t THE CAR she wanted. I remember her coming to school and pouting and complaining about her parents not getting her the car she desired. I also remember wanting to punch her in the mouth as my sister and I were going to be tooling around the grand E City in our lovely 1986 Pontiac 6000 LE! But did you catch that – did you notice what just happened – in the midst of my righteous indignation toward her because she felt “entitled” to get the car she knew she deserved – I was doing the same thing – I was angry because she got a nicer car than what we had and yet she wasn’t thankful for it and instead was determining that I might somehow deserve something better for not being like her.
The sense of Entitlement can be such a funny thing – SO MUCH EASIER to notice in the ungrateful oafishness of others that we completely overlook the exact same asinine attitude in our own lives. And if you even remotely being to think it doesn’t completely immerse our culture if not YOUR very own life – then see if any of these ring a bell:
“I’m a good law abiding citizen, I don’t drive like other idiots, why am I the one who gets pulled by this jerk cop just seeking to meet his quota?” (heaven forbid that you are simply getting a ticket cause you were driving over the speed limit or broke some other law)
“You are such a great guy/girl, don’t you worry the RIGHT girl/guy is out there for you and you will get married and everything will be beautiful and perfect!” (heaven forbid that you might just end up living the single life and serving God best in that – I mean who determined that the ONLY way that God designed things was for everyone to be married – guess Jesus & Paul didn’t get that memo)
“I pay my tithes and offerings, why does the washer and dryer have to break now when I have no money to buy something new – that just isn’t fair!” (must not have grown up with my mom & dad who would have been quick to drop the “life isn’t always fair” trump card on that lil conversation)
“I’ve tried to be frugal and I even sold my other car to buy a car that gets better gas mileage and was paid off so I wouldn’t have a car payment – WHY IN THE WORLD do I get punished by this piece of junk keeping on breaking down!” (okay we all know that this one isn’t so “hypothetical” and I would be “guilty as charged”)
The tough part of this is that SOME of our statements of feeling entitled totally sound selfish like those above, but others are true genuine concerns – but if we scraped the surface off and looked a lil deeper we might see that it still is coming basically from a focus of self and what WE want to see happen – how WE see life playing out and forgetting that God might just have something else in store. That is why I believe it so very dangerous even to the point of damning to our own lives & the lives around us! We MUST fight harder to recognize when we are falling & failing in this area.
“My mom was such a great woman, she loved the Lord – she didn’t deserve to die so young?”
“My grandad was such a great man of faith, why did he have to get cancer and suffer so much?”
“Our lives were so perfect with the new baby in it – how can we ever continue to live now that they are gone?”
Do I believe that someone is WRONG to utter such thoughts? NO – far be it from me to judge especially in horrific situations such as these that I may have NO EXPERIENCE dealing with. I also DO KNOW that God is a God who loves us and is concerned about all the things of our lives, but might I just suggest that sometimes our own struggle with entitlement is possibly what makes these tough situations almost impossible to overcome more so than the actual event itself. We have lived far too long with blinders on to the reality that this IS A FALLEN AND BROKEN AND SINFUL WORLD full of chaos that touches all of our lives and is a respecter of NO ONE.
We live in a world that is foaming at the mouth with the words of Nancy Kerrigan after being attacked by Tonya Harding’s thugs “WHY ME?” – at least Nancy had good reason to utter these words in disbelief. But most of us – really? Come on – why is it so hard for us to see the bigger picture and realize that we are not so entitled to all these grand and glorious things in life?
Now don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating everyone just expect life to stink and nothing ever to be decent – in fact I live by a completely different mantra – I try to strive to believe the following: “Expect the BEST, but prepare for the worst”. What I mean by that is to expect the BEST in people, circumstances, environments, in whatever it is that you face in life, set your expectations in a positive direction. While at the same time – preparing for what could be the worst of scenarios. Preparing your mind and heart to deal with the headache & heartache that comes with living in this world.
I once heard a speaker share some pretty important insight in regards to young people preparing for their college years. He said that the distance between Expectation and Reality was Anxiety. I thought that was awesome – the reason we get so angry and bent out of shape over things (our anxieties) is because we sometimes have our expectations all out of whack. Then when the reality of a certain situation comes to light – the amount of difference between the reality and our initial expectation was what was actually causing that anxiety. His purpose was to give these young students a “realistic” and “actual” view of the preparations needed when headed to college. He did not try scare tactics or to mislead or even to paint a disingenuous “bed of roses” – and he certainly did not indicate that you were not to EXPECT good things but the idea was the same as what I am trying to live by – follow the plan of expecting the best, with also preparing yourself for the worst and thus helping to handle anxiety before it ever has to hit.
So all of this connects with the danger of ENTITLEMENT because when we walk around believing that we are entitled the the BEST things – jobs, pay scale, school acceptance, friend acceptance, significant other’s acceptance, cars, clothes, and the list goes on and on – then WHEN we end up getting the short end of the stick – WE GO BALLISTIC and we have no frame of reference on how to cope or handle a situation at all, much less properly.
I firmly believe that God DOES have the BEST in store for us – but it might not be what WE DEEM is best – what WE feel we deserve – what we feel ENTITLED to have in our lives – but that just brings me back to the beginning – if that is the case then let “ENTITLEMENT BE DAMNED” in my life and let me just rest in the trust and assurance that my “FATHER KNOWS BEST”.