Entitlement is banished when the Lord is your portion. Consider, for a moment, just how exhausting it is to live with that sense of entitlement. You are constantly evaluating others. You are always dissatisfied with who and what you have. You long, incessantly, for more.
Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, had a near fall:
Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold (Psalm 73:1-2).
Of course, the fall here was metaphorical. He was on the edge of despair. The edge of anxiety. The edge of unbelief. And the thing that pushed him to the edge was an issue of allocation. Asaph was not struggling with the age old question of why do bad things happen to good people; he was struggling with the question of why good things seem to happen to bad people. But more so, he was struggling with the issue of entitlement:
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:3).
It wasn’t just a hypothetical question of why the wicked seem to prosper; rather, it was the sense that he, in his righteous and clean living, wasn’t getting what others were. And surely we can relate to that.
Surely we, too, look around at times and start to play the comparison. Surely we also wonder why someone who is less holy, less righteous, less upstanding than we are seem to be getting the blessings that we feel are rightfully ours. We know what it feels like to be entitled. But do we know the true destructive nature of entitlement? Perhaps not. Here, then, are four reasons why entitlement is so destructive:
1. Entitlement is a denial of the truth.
At a base level, we don’t actually want what we deserve. And if we claim to want what we deserve, what we are really betraying about ourselves is that we have failed to fully grasp the true nature of sin and the human heart. Because what we really deserve – each and everyone of us – is hell. This is the payment we deserve for our sin – for our offenses against a holy God. Thank God that we don’t get what we deserve! Living with a sense of entitlement, then, is living outside of the light of this truth. And once we begin to deny that truth – once we begin to convince ourselves that we were not actually dead in our sins and transgressions, that we were actually not alienated and separated from God, that we were actually not helpless and in need of rescue, then a multitude of other false ways of thinking follow.
2. Entitlement is destructive is that it robs us of gratitude.
Gratitude ought to be a way of life for us as a Christian. We are not the people who occasionally say “thank you,” but we are the people who rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say, rejoice! When you live in a posture of gratitude, you are also living in a posture of humility because gratitude is a recognition that we are constantly on the receiving end.