Summary: There are several ways we Edge God Out. One of them is by the sense of Entitlement that many of us strongly feel. The antidote is to Exalt God Only through Thanksgiving.
Edging God Out through Entitlement
I have used the acronym EGO before, and some of you might remember it. Edging God Out. There are various ways we Edge God Out of our lives. We have examined some of them in my past messages here, and I would like to continue on the same theme. Today, let us examine another way of Edging God Out.
If you google the word “entitlement” you will come up with three major definitions of the word.
• The first one says “the fact of having a right to something.” This is when we are fully aware of our rights. Sometimes we need to fight for our rights as citizens of the country. It is a good thing for us to be aware of our rights. It is also biblical. A beautiful example is that of Paul claiming his rights as a Roman citizen when he was arrested and bound in Jerusalem. In Acts 22: 25-30 , Paul exercises his citizenship rights and that probably saves his life and a lot of trouble.
• The second definition of the word says “the amount to which a person has a right”. Many of us do this instinctively. We are fully aware of how many holidays we are entitled to. Staff and faculty are aware of how many days they can avail and of what category. I recently became a senior citizen and one of the first things I did was to research and find out my entitlements as a senior citizen. How much concession do I get when I travel etc..
• The third definition of the word says “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” This is the problematic one . This is the one that Edges God Out. Let us dig a little deeper into this.
Have you felt entitled to something ever? Do you look for what are you entitled to when you get a promotion at office? This happens even in families. Parents feel entitled to be looked after by children, Husbands feel entitled to be served by wives, Children feel entitled to be educated at the parents cost to the highest levels possible. The sense of entitlement is all around us. Isn’t it?
Bible gives us numerous stories of people who felt “entitled” Numbers 11:4-6 (NKJV) Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" It didn’t matter to the Israelites, (though the trouble started with the aliens among them, but the Israelites soon joined them) the Lord God had brought them out of slavery, it didn’t matter to them that the Lord parted the Red sea in front of them and allowed them to cross over on dry land. It didn’t matter to them that the Lord struck down the entire army of the Pharaoh who were chasing them. It didn’t matter to them that the Lord was continuously protecting them from alien nations around them. It didn’t matter to them that they were mere slaves when they were in Egypt. It didn’t matter to them that the Lord provided food from heavens for them in the wilderness. All that mattered to them was the fact that they felt “entitled” to eat fish and meat regularly, as they were doing while they were in Egypt. They felt it is a responsibility of the Lord to provide for them their entitlement, (it was the Lord who brought them out of Egypt, and so it is His responsibility). They had the option of choosing to be Thankful to the Lord for all that He has done to them, but they chose the sense of “entitlement” to and grumbled against the Lord.
Jesus tells us a parable that illustrates our “entitlement” syndrome. This is in the parable of the vineyard workers described in Matthew 20:1-15 (NKJV) The laborers who came in first, came in with the explicit understanding that they will be paid a denarius for a day’s work. And they sure were paid exactly what they were promised, or what was agreed. But the moment they saw that some others who put in lesser hours also got the same compensation that they got, they were disappointed. Their discontentment did not arise out of any injustice done to them, but out of the grace extended to someone else. Their feeling was “I am entitled to more since I put in more hours” . It is not enough if I get what I deserve, or what I have been promised, “My entitlement is more when compared to others” is the theme here.