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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Fifteenth (Entitlement)

I hope you had a wonderful week! This week we're going to touch on the topic of entitlement. We're also going to include humility, which I see as a sort of antonym of entitlement in that if you're humble, you do not have a sense of entitlement to anything. In fact, if you are humble, I believe instead you'd be more likely to give away things that you are legitimately entitled to.

It doesn't take long to find verses about humility, or its opposite, pride, but slightly harder to find ones about entitlement. In general, a sense of entitlement is someone believing they should be given something without doing anything for it. In other words, they're owed something and shouldn't have to give something to receive it.

If we go all the way back to the beginning, we know that Adam and Eve were created and given the garden and its fruit to eat freely (Genesis 2:8, 16). However, even then, they were to take care of the garden; to tend to it (Genesis 2:15). So, in return for tending the garden they were able to eat of its fruit. A sense of entitlement was not even intended in the garden!

When we look through a slightly different lens, we also find something interesting. Out of all the beings in the universe, who would you say is the single one that deserves literally anything it asks for? God, of course! Along with the Holy Spirit and Jesus, they are the only ones deserving of everything they ask. They are the only ones who are justified in having a sense of entitlement.

Even with the justified entitlement of being the Creator of all, what does Yehovah do? He gives and gives, unceasingly. All created things should be giving Him everything, not the other way around, and yet He still gives regardless of the lack of appreciation we sometimes have. In particular, He delivered Israel from Egypt yet they soon forgot what He did for them and no longer sought Him (Psalm 106:7-13).

I'm sure there are even things today He does for us that you or I don't thank and praise Him for. Or we simply ignore Him, despite His attempts to lead us and guide us, rather than giving our time and effort in response to all that He's given to us. Awhile ago, we touched on giving thanks and praise. He doesn't ask us for much in the grand scheme of things, but He's willing to give us everything and the least we can do is thanks and praise!

Jesus didn't have a sense of entitlement during His ministry. If He did, you'd see His words and actions reflect that. So, if the Creator of all things doesn't have a sense of entitlement, who are we to have one!

Fast forward to first century Jerusalem post-crucifixion and you'll find that there were entitled folks then as well. First, we see that Paul felt the need to point out that he, Silas and Timothy were working, laboring, the whole time they were in Thessaloniki preaching the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:9). He followed up with a reminder to the same church in the second letter of how they said not to give food to those among them that refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

You see, the apostles didn't just go from place to place expecting to be given everything for spreading the gospel. Even the apostles didn't have a sense of entitlement. They still worked, so as not to be a burden to those they were preaching to. I believe this had two purposes.

First, if someone didn't have that much to begin with, resentment would likely develop with individuals coming in and taking what little they had. Not only that, there may start to be a feeling, even if it's just sub-consciously, that giving to the apostles was a requirement in order to be given the gospel (and by extension, their salvation). When dealing with the unseen spiritual things, it is very easy for the seen, natural things to obscure what's required spiritually, or what's occurring spiritually.

A perfect example of this is following God's commandments, and of course Jesus' commandments because they are all the same. Satan has done a great job brainwashing Christians into immediately labeling those that follow commandments as "legalists." The first thing that comes out of most people's mouths is something to the effect of questioning why these "legalists" are "putting themselves under the law."

In my opinion, this has led to haughty, entitled Christians thinking they can do whatever they want because they're not "bound" to the law. They may even claim they "walk in the Spirit," (without even really knowing what that means) so they don't need the law. While in an ideal world that might be true, too many people are too blind to what's true spiritually because they're so inundated with worldly views of "right" and "wrong." The use of Yeshua and Yehovah's commandments is required in order to reset ourselves to TRUE right and wrong.

This is exactly why Paul pointed out that he wouldn't know right and wrong except for the law showed him! (Romans 7:7) So many churches are condoning, and even promoting, things that are clearly against God's commandments because that's what the world says is "right" or because they want to be more "inclusive." And why not? If you believe you don't have to follow His commandments, or if they were somehow abolished at Yeshua's crucifixion, then anything goes and everything is acceptable to God.

What those churches, and many Christians, fail to recognize is that it's not our job to be more inclusive and it's most certainly not appropriate to incorporate worldly views of "right" and "wrong" into our lives and into the body of Christ. We are to be holy (Romans 12:1), which is a translation from a Greek word that simply means "set apart." As in, set apart from the world. If we live according to God's word and want to bring more people into His kingdom, they need to conform to Him, not us conform to them. You know, it's interesting that Jesus gave the analogy of cutting out an eye and other body parts (Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:43-48) if they cause you to sin, and that we are his body?

I believe the second purpose for the apostles not expecting to be given everything when preaching the gospel is because there becomes a certain dependency that develops when that happens. When someone depends on others for income in a situation like this, where a message is provided rather than a tangible product, the person providing that message is more likely to "adjust" that message to be better received by the individuals and ensure their source of income continues.

You can see this in many churches today as well. Messages with hard-hitting truth and the reality of God's expectations are substituted with soft words and those that satisfy "itching ears" (2 Timothy 4:3). Every sermon turns into some version of "be kind to everyone" rather than the message that the congregation needs to hear.

To close, let's take a look at an interaction Jesus had with a certain Gentile woman (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30). As you read that encounter there's a few things to note. First, this woman approaches Jesus with humility and not entitlement to be given her request. Second, she acknowledges Jesus' authority when she makes her request. Furthermore, on that point, her acknowledgement is of the authority of Jesus through the Israelite kingly lineage of David, something that should be more significant to the Jewish followers of Jesus rather than a Gentile like her. Third, she was persistent, because it says Jesus ignored her, even the disciples wanted to kick her out, and still she remained and made her plea. Fourth, and finally, even when it seems like Jesus is likening her to a dog, rather than letting pride get in the way, or even demanding that He deliver her daughter, her response was a valid, and well thought out continuation of Jesus' analogy. As a side note, I'm sure He was impressed by this since He had been using analogies and parables throughout His preaching and up to that point it seemed no one was understanding them!

As Christians, we need to remember this Syrophoenician woman and her approach to Yeshua. While we can rest easy in the promises of Jesus for our salvation, it is not to be a source of entitlement, or a "get out of jail free" card allowing us to do whatever we want. Our humility should be a way of life, just like Jesus' humility was, and it certainly should be how we approach Him. Understanding that we are only given what God chooses to give, and not as a result of our works, is the first step to this way of life. The second step is knowing that we are no more deserving of anything God gives us than anyone else is.

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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