Entitlement. I think that one word describes why we do a lot of the things we do. We think we deserve more. We think we deserve better. We deserve higher pay, better treatment, faster service. We push others to do these things for us, because we truly believe we deserve it. And even worse, we push God for blessings that can only come from Him, and we honestly believe we deserve them. We have the gall to think that God owes us more. We may not actually say this to God, but we say other things like “why do I have to suffer with this illness?” or “why can’t I have a higher paying job?” Sure, we might not direct those questions at God, but who else are we asking? Our fairy godmother? We could only ask things like this of someone who has the power to change them, right? So when we have dissatisfaction about our circumstances, it is God who we are dissatisfied with. We are saying that He hasn’t done enough to make our lives better, and that we’re entitled to something better. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Paul pointed out in Romans 11:35-36: “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things.” And if anyone knew something about this subject, it was Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells about a “thorn in [his] flesh”, which he pleaded with God 3 times to take away from Him. God’s reply? “My grace is sufficient for you…” (v. 9, emphasis added).
The truth of the matter is that God owes us nothing and He is indebted to no one. In fact, we owe God everything, yet as the passage from Romans above points out, we have nothing to give Him. So if I have nothing else to give to Him, I will give Him my gratitude. If I have nothing with which I can repay Him, I will live in a way that glorifies Him. As I wrote about recently, one of my favorite John Piper quotes is “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” So in the light of this, I will try to live being content in my circumstances, satisfied by nothing more than His grace.
Keeping the Right Perspective
I’ve also recently written about the fact that the one lesson I am learning the most lately is that the Christian faith is very much about perspective. Entitlement is all about having the wrong perspective. Gratitude is about having the right one. The perspective that my study pointed out today that people often miss is how much gratitude we should have about the fact that we aren’t bound for hell. Randy Alcorn used this analogy to point out how amazingly out-of-focus our perspective is:
“Imagine a great and generous king who, in spite of his benevolent reign, hears that his subjects have revolted. He sends messengers to investigate, and the rebels kill them. So the king sends his own dear son, the prince. But the people viciously murder him, hanging his body on the city wall. The king has both the power and the right to [take revenge on these rebels]. But instead, he offers these criminals a full pardon: ‘I will accept my son – whom you murdered – as the payment for all your rebellion,’ he declares. ‘You may go free. All I require is for you to admit your transgressions…I invite any of you to come live in my palace, eat at my table, and enjoy all the pleasures of my kingdom. And I will adopt you as my own children and make you my heirs; everything that’s mine will be yours forever….I won’t force you to accept my offer, but the only alternative is spending the rest of your life in prison. The choice is yours.’ “
This story seems a little far-fetched in our minds, doesn’t it? Would God, the righteous ruler of the universe, fully pardon, take in, and eternally bless the very same people who rebelled against Him, killing his son? This is exactly what God has done. He accepted His son’s death as a replacement for our own deserved death, and as if that wasn’t enough, he piled one eternal blessing on top of another. Alcorn asks “Can you imagine anyone responding, ‘How dare the king send anyone to prison? What a cruel tyrant?’ ” Yet people deny the existence of hell simply because they don’t see how God could send someone there. But in this perspective, it seems a little silly to think that God sends people to hell. No, God has made the most undeserved offer we could ever receive – it’s our pride that sends us to hell if we refuse His grace.
Grace is a funny thing. We have a hard time grasping it, and I know why. Our minds are so bent toward equality and justice that it just doesn’t make sense that God would completely drop the charges against us, only to turn around and adopt us as His own children. He loves us that much. Yet, we often live as though He owes us more. In the light of grace, I think we should quickly realize that He owes us nothing, and we owe Him everything. We don’t really have anything to give Him, but we can at least be grateful.