“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must deny yourself” (Matthew 16:24)
I have been hacked three times in the past month. Once on my Amazon account. Once on my Facebook account. And once on a cell phone account that I have not even had for nearly two years. (Apparently these scammers don’t do a thorough job researching before they choose their targets). Besides frustrating me and making me take time from other things to change passwords, etc., it made me stop and ask myself the question – “Why do people do these things in the first place?” Now, we can answer that question with the characteristic of greed, but I believe there is something else in the heart of thieves – entitlement.
We are hearing a lot today about entitlement. “I am entitled to my opinion, and if you disagree with me, you are the one who is wrong.” “I am entitled to steal what is yours and make it my own.” “I am entitled to do what I want, but you are not.” Just look at your social media on your phone, or pick-up a newspaper, or turn on the latest news. Entitlement fills the headlines.
Because entitlement is rooted in selfishness, it spawns bitterness, murder and strife, to name a few sins. James 3:16 says that where you have “selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Once again, Scripture nails it. The Constitution promises that every American is entitled to three things – freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the due process of law. I do not see where the Constitution entitles us to take what is not ours, hate those who do not agree with us, or commit any crime we want.
So, what is the answer to overcoming our egotistical addiction to entitlement? Well, the most obvious answer is having a relationship with Jesus Christ. However, that does not mean that having a relationship with Christ, causes all our selfish ambition to dissipate. A relationship with Christ offers us the potential to overcome our selfish ways. It does not automatically remove our selfish ways. I believe there are a couple important qualities we need to incorporate in our lives in order to weed out our entitled attitudes. The first is from our focus verse for this week – “deny yourself.” Stop and think for a moment. When was the last time you consciously denied yourself something in order to teach yourself humility? Entitlement is not interested in denying ourselves anything. I believe we need to revisit our thirst to acquire and accumulate. Second quality to help overcome this attitude of entitlement is gratitude. How often do we practice gratitude? A good discipline to incorporate in our lives is to train ourselves to stop what we are doing when we see God do something good in our life and thank him for his grace. And then at night before we crawl into our bed, just take a few moments to evaluate the day, and as we do, thank him for each blessing he brought into our life that day. Gratitude is a great way to overcome grumbling.
A word to the wise: Do not allow a mindset of entitlement make you a career victim.