What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:1-12)
Someone much older than me and much more wise once told me… “entitlement is the little brother of pride.” It was years ago and I did not understand it at the time, but after all these years it has stuck with me. As I’ve grown in my relationship with the Lord I realize now that this could not be more true. Whenever I feel that I deserve certain things in life or I deserve something from someone this makes ME the center of my existence. I must admit, I’m guilty of this all the time. I pray daily for Christ to give me strength to subdue this sense of “entitlement” and to grow beyond myself.
Entitlement can come in many forms. Sometimes it comes in something big like… “God, all of my friends and family are having children, why haven’t you blessed me with children of my own?” It also comes in small doses like believing your inner circle of friends and family need to tell you about every single little detail regarding their lives. Here’s a good one that’s common in my life… “I’ve worked so hard this week I deserve to relax and answer to no one this weekend”. If the Word is clear that God doesn’t owe me anything than what makes me think people do? I realize that God tells us to honor our mother and father, or He tells us to lay ourselves down for our spouses and loved ones and anyone for that fact, but should we expect to receive these things from our children, or spouse, or loved ones, or anyone? No, we should not expect anything from anybody. When we begin to feel people owe us something we begin to seek out our peace and happiness in these people and instead of in Christ. When these people fail to give us what we want from them than we end up frustrated and irritated. We feel robbed of our sanity and peace of mind. The correct thing to do would be to put your faith in Jesus that He will work things out for your good and everyone else’s good whether that be through a good circumstance or a bad circumstance. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work out this way most of the time in my life to be completely transparent.
It’s no wonder why entitlement culture has engulfed the world. We live in a digital wonderland where everything is available literally at our fingertips. With the press of a button we can have anything we want. I complain now when Amazon Prime takes longer than expected to arrive at my doorstep. One can seek out this existence of constant entitlement feeling everyone owes them some form of respect day in and day out, but what will end up happening is this mentality will strip you of the peace and rest our good Lord freely offers us. You’ll find yourself seeking out elevated “positions” or “social” stature among those in your life by your actions and the words that you speak. You’ll spend countless moments conjuring up tactics on how to gain an “upper hand” on everyone to protect your elaborate facade. This is forcing yourself into a leadership and authoritative role in all of the wrong ways, and it’s origin is from a place of great insecurity. It will be excruciatingly exhausting at times just to be you.
The Pharisees were the very definition of entitlement. They often felt like everyone needed to treat them with reverence, and they portrayed this attitude with their words and actions…
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (Matthew 6:16)
The Pharisees would literally wear makeup on their faces to appear “ill” and “sickly” and shout out in the synagogues, and in streets that they were fasting while “vomiting” out scripture to anyone who would listen. This is why Jesus calls them hypocrites that “disfigure their faces”. The Pharisees felt “entitled” to reverence and truly believed they were the holiest and the most righteous amongst all of Israel.
“Entitlement” has been around since the beginning…
How you have fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground (earth), which didst weaken the nations; For you said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the Mount of the congregation in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of clouds; I will be like the Most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
Here in this passage Isaiah describes that Satan was already on earth with the fallen angels, “the sons of God” before The Garden of Eden/Adam and Eve (see Revelation 12:7-9 to pair with the passage from Isaiah above). After losing a great battle against the archangel Michael and his army of angels Satan began to plot his revenge to overthrow God to takeover His throne in Heaven. Why did Lucifer want God’s title? A sense of entitlement grown from the seed of pride. The Devil felt he deserved to be in God’s place to have the right to decide what was good and evil. Now you can see, Christian, how feeling entitled to anything will slowly strip you of your identity in Christ Jesus.
I know, deep down in my heart, that I don’t deserve anything from God or anyone. The one thing I do deserve is…well…it’s so terrible I won’t bring it up, but you can probably guess what it is. Our Lord loves us so much that He offers us a free “get out of jail” card. We just need to “genuinely” accept it.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)