When I hear the word entitlement, I think of someone who through no fault of his own was born into luxury. Like the King of France.
Entitlement is defined in the dictionary as the fact of having a right to something.
But when I think of who I am when I’m fighting traffic among hundreds of other vehicles, each with at least one other person in them, I’m humbled by how small and insignificant I am.
I wasn’t born into good breeding by French Revolutionary standards.
No one knows who my parents are.
I don’t have a monster following on Twitter. I’m not really known.
The president’s dog is more famous than I am. Yikes.
So what makes me think I am entitled to something?
If I look at Jesus, I see the measure of His perfection. Born perfectly. Lived perfectly. Died perfectly. And even then, I don’t get the full understanding that is my salvation by grace.
I wasn’t born inheriting the Kingdom of God. I wasn’t going to automatically inherit His Kingdom when Christ died. I wasn’t entitled to that. It’s by grace that Christ died and opened those Kingdom doors for me, inviting me in. Not because I deserved it or had a right, but because he loved me.
So why do I battle this sense of entitlement in day-to-day living even though my online following racks no clout and my family ties have nothing to say?
We like to blame my generation for being entitled. I believe a new nick name is being thrown around. Generation Y Protagonists and Special Yuppies or “GYPSYs” for short. Clever, guys.
We like to blame my generation’s passions, ideals, and unrealistic dreams as the source for this entitlement.
But I think the struggle comes not from entitled hopes or dreams, but from a desire for enlightenment and, consequentially, control. We feel entitled to know and entitled to dictate what happens and when. We feel entitled to play God.
In pursuit of the big dream we want to see the big picture and we get caught up in “what am I supposed to do in the next 30 years” instead of “what can I do with the next few days?”
We paint idealistic what-if possibilities and get tangled up in distractions as we worry “what if these ‘what-ifs’ don’t work!” But as much as I want to know the full picture, I’ll never be able to see it. I can cry and plea and beg. I can insist I’ve figured it out – again and again – but I’ll never fully know what God knows. I’ll never know what’s really going on. I’m not entitled.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us the parable of the bags of gold.
In the parable there is a master and three servants. The master leaves five bags of gold with the first servant, two bags of gold with the second servant, and one bag of gold with the third servant.
After a long time – like a life time – after a long time the master comes back and finds the servant he left with five bags of gold doubled his wealth, and the servant he left with two bags of gold doubled his wealth, but the servant he left with one bag of gold buried it and didn’t have anything to show for his entire life.
The third servant with one bag of gold says, “Master, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”
The third servant says “I knew,” assuming he knows what the master will do, assuming he knows the big picture and instead of doing what he can with the gold he’s given, he buries his gold in the ground and doesn’t do anything at all. He wastes his life and he loses everything.
Maybe when we feel entitled, like we’ve figured it out and like we know what’s coming in the big picture, we neglect what we can see – the little corner of the canvas right in front of us and we don’t do what we can each day with what we have – even if what we have only seems like one piece of a painting or one measly bag of gold.
Maybe it’s not about what we have a right to. If that were the case, we’d each have a whole lot of nothing. Maybe it’s about what we’re being offered and what we’re humbly willing to receive. And then, maybe it’s about what we do with what we were given, each day investing what we have and trusting that will add up to a greater purpose in a greater kingdom.
Matthew 25:29 says, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
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