Summary: One of the major reason for our hearts to become ungrateful is our sense of Entitlement
Today we celebrate as Thanksgiving Day. The topic of Thanksgiving is very familiar. The Bible speaks volumes about the topic. The Psalms are resplendent with affirmations of thanksgiving to the Lord for His good ness and mercy. “Oh Give Thanks to the Lord…” rings out loud and clear in this book. We sing hymns like “Give thanks with a grateful heart” very often. Thanksgiving is prescribed as a form of peace offering in Leviticus (Lev 7:12) . The new testament asks us to give thanks in multiple occasions with Paul taking it to the heights exhorting us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18). We have heard multiple sermons on Thanksgiving.
Yet, we see thanklessness all around us. We find that we ourselves are not Thankful many of the times. Why do we not have grateful hearts?
One of the reasons that I have discovered for thanklessness is the sense of entitlement.
Let me try to explain.
Long time back, long before I became a Christian, while I was working in Bharti telecom, which later on went to become the famous Airtel, I got a promotion. I was promoted from a Senior Manager to an Assistant General Manager (AGM). I was thrilled at the news. Apart from the fact that it was a significant role in the company, there were many perks that I was “entitled” to on the promotion. One of the perks was a company provided car. That was the time when cars were not that popular as today, and loans were not as easy as it is now. So, I was still commuting on a motor bike and was eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to lay hands on a company provided car. Neville was a small baby and we used to dress him almost as in a space suit to take him out in a motor bike in the cold winter time in Delhi. So I was pretty pleased that I was finally “entitled” to get a company provided car. Unfortunately God had other plans. (later on it would turn out that they were good plans, as His plans always are, but at that time I had no clue.) Just when I was about to exercise my “entitlement” for the company provided car, the company came out with a new policy on company provided cars. From a definite entitlement, it became a perk that was provided on business needs. And since I was in a manufacturing factory role at that time, I was told that I was no more eligible for a company provided car. I fumed and fretted inside. I know that the promotion was a big thing. But far from being thankful for the promotion, I started feeling angry and frustrated at the fact that I was denied an “entitlement”. My frustration reached such high levels that I ended up quitting the company three months after the promotion. (Again, it is another matter that God had good plans for me and I did get a better job with better perks and the move helped in my career). My focus at that time was on what I was “entitled” to , and my anger and frustration was because I was denied my “entitlement”.
Have you felt like that ever? Do you look for what are you entitled to when you get a promotion at office? Don’t we compare and calculate the “entitlements” when we switch jobs? Isn’t that the first question that we ask when we look for a job, position etc? Don’t we fight for our entitlements as citizens of the country? 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. I am becoming a senior citizen in a few months, and I am already researching on what are my additional entitlements when I formally become a senior citizen. What concessions am I entitled to? What additional interest rates for deposits am I entitled to? What additional privileges can I get? 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.