Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Entitlement Disease

Monday night in class we had to break off into small groups and discuss several of Jesus’ parables. We had Matthew 20: 1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Basically here is the deal on what is going on... Jesus just tells the disciples that they will be rulers sitting on thrones in the kingdom around His. Then Jesus goes into a discourse on what the kingdom of Heaven is like. He says it’s like a landowner who went out to hire workers in the morning. So throughout the rest of the day every couple of hours the landowner goes out and hires new workers. At the end of the day He gathers everyone and pays them all equal, but starts with the last one’s hired. Like any of us, when the workers who were hired first get up to the landowner they expect to be paid more. The workers grumble against the landowner and receive this response, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Do you ever feel this way or have you ever? I’m an active follower of Christ, I serve in the local church, I serve the community, and actively pursue my relationship with the Lord. When I see someone new to the faith get blessed a typical response of anyone is, “I’ve been doing all this work and they are only a baby, why do they get that?” The dangerous mentality that we fall into is that we are entitled to something because we do certain things. It is what I call the entitlement disease. We get all prideful and think God owes of something because of what we do for Him. It is a really nasty process and path that we can get on. The problem begins when we lose our focus. When we shift our focus off the Lord and onto ourselves it is easy to begin looking better or being better or worse than others. When I am focused on the Lord, I know that I am no where near being anything and except His grace as a gift and am honored to do the work of the kingdom. When I start looking around at others I start creating this standard, basically I am the standard and anything less than me is unacceptable and I begin to see the work I do for the Lord as a burden and that I am owed something more because I’ve been working longer and harder than others. So here is a list of things I can tell God entitle me to something: I go to church, I pray, I serve the community, I care for the poor. God’s response might look a little bit like this if I were to actually sit down and compare lists with Him: I created the earth, I am Love, the beach, Jay-z, Nike shoes, rain, wind, the smell of spring in the air, snow, that tingly feeling you get inside when you fall in love, colors, sense, etc. As you can see I would be trumped to say the least. So once I get to thinking I am entitled, it’s like this disease that infects me and affects everything else.

God’s grace is His to give. As humans we cannot understand what true grace looks like because we are flawed and don’t see things as God does. The question for me is not whether I think it is fair that God gives His grace out in such a manner as the last being first because honestly that is hard for me to resolve within my own mind. The question is do I trust God and that His grace is enough? So let’s remind ourselves that we are not entitled to anything, actually I take that back, the only thing we are entitled to is death and an eternity away from God. God in His great character decided to extend grace to us by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So next time you feel like the worker with sweat running down his brow, aching back, blistered feet, callused hands, remember it is a great honor to serve the Lord and receive His grace. Do not worry about how He decides to extend it to others.

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