Friday, March 29, 2013

Breaking spiritual "entitlement" attitudes

With this weekend being Easter, I have been reflecting on the cross these last few days and the magnitude that this weekend represents. 1 Cor 5:21 says "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." I was wretched and full of sin and undeserving, yet He saved me (For more on this, you might read this older post). Because of His great love, because of the greatness of His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy, and His grace--He sent His son as a ransom for all. And He adopted me and gave me an inheritance. Not because I deserved it. Not because I earned it. And certainly not because I was entitled to it.

I've been thinking about this idea of "entitlement" all week. From a personal standpoint, I think I pride myself on not taking "handouts," and unlike the common perception of 20-somethings today, I do not expect or feel entitled to anything. Fortunately, I was raised that if you want something, you work for it. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. You earn what you own.

When we think about not just the cross or salvation but our lives as Christians, this daily "walking out" of our sanctification, we find that the "work to earn it" mentality is no more accurate than an "entitlement" mentality. And while, for me, learning to see and accept salvation as a gift was hard, it was not impossible. My mind works very logically and analytically, and even on my "best" days if I put my "merit" on one side of the scale and the fullness of what Jesus did on the cross on the other side--there will never be a balance; the two could never be equal. His sacrifice, God's grace, would always outweigh any futile attempt of mine to save myself. It's illogical, impossible--there is no amount of work that could ever earn me the status of salvation.

And so I learned years ago to lay down that mentality. And since I didn't feel I practiced the "entitlement" mentality in the natural, I never imagined I was laden with this mentality in the spiritual. I believe our Daddy gives good gifts to His children; I believe His promises are yes and amen; and I believe He has told me to ask, to seek, to knock, and it will be given to me. But somewhere along the way, I forgot that I wasn't entitled to anything. At the end of the day, there's a certain amount of pride in thinking I can demand my way because I asked in faith and believed it to be so.

Have I forgotten that "God is in Heaven; He does as He pleases"? (Psalm 115:3). Have I forgotten "God is unique and who can make Him change? Whatever His soul desires, that He does"? (Job 23:13). Have I forgotten, as Job did, that I was not there when He created the Heavens and the Earth, when He separated the waters from the land, when He commanded the sun to rise and set in His time. In short, have I forgotten not just His sovereignty, but His supremacy?

Last night, as I was again thinking about the cross and this weekend, I was reminded that God's gift of salvation is the greatest gift He ever gave. On top of that, He has blessed me with an incredible husband, a great job, friends and family who care for me, a house, a car, etc. If, for the rest of my life, He chose to never give me another gift, He would still be a good God.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't ask or that God would ever limit His gifts to His children. His nature is generosity, and He loves to bless us. He loves that we would ask and seek and knock; He loves to see our faith walked out. And I believe not only is He a just God, but He honors and rewards the faith of the righteous.

But I would be wise to remember that just as I did not earn any gifts He gives me, neither am I entitled to them. Anytime I demand my way or am offended with His plans, my pride is revealed, and I have forgotten my place. I need only change my perspective, I need only remember His work on the cross, to remember His grace is sufficient--I have all I'll ever need in Him.