It’s a word we hear all too often these days.
To some, it’s audacious that others claim entitlement to government aid.
That they think they deserve to have things handed to them with little effort of their own.
And dare I even mention health insurance?
I think not.
What is a right? And what is a privilege?
What is deserved? And what is grace?
God, in His gentle way, has shown me that I have my own entitlement issues…
Sometimes I feel I’m entitled to a “thank you”…
Sometimes it’s food served fast at a fast food restaurant…
Sometimes it’s my right to be heard…
Sometimes it’s my right to go the speed limit and not be hindered by someone in front of me going 5 mph under the limit…
Sometimes it’s recognition…
Sometimes it’s respect…
Sometimes it’s a right to protect my feelings…
But I’m learning that in God’s eyes, all of those “sometimes” are ugly every time. Because it’s proof that I’ve gotten the false impression that I somehow deserve more than I really deserve…which is a cross.
Have you ever noticed that this sense of “my rights” begins so early for our children?
And I’m afraid that more often than not, it’s our fault.
I remember when my firstborn was very young, and we were enjoying some time at a local park. One of her favorite things was the slide. She would climb up the steps with her little legs, make her way to the top of the slide, gripping the bars with her chubby, dimpled fists. Then she would sit down and, whoosh!…go flying down. And she would do this over and over again.
Until that one time…
When a little boy who was just a little bit older and a little bit more practiced at the whole getting-into-sliding-position thing raced up the steps behind her, then pushed ahead of her as she was in the process of sitting down.
I don’t remember her reaction…
But I remember mine.
“HEY! SHE WAS THERE FIRST!!! WAIT FOR YOUR TURN!” Accompanied by some shoving of my own.
Thankfully, that reaction took place only in my mind. Because no sooner had the angry defense of my baby girl formed in my mind, than the Holy Spirit gently nudged me.
She must be taught to prefer others over herself.
And what about those times when we have two siblings or friends or classmates fighting over a toy? What’s the first thing we ask?
“Who had it first?”
The thing is…I’m not sure “who had it first” matters very much. Because what we really have in those situations is two sinning children.
Two children saying, “MINE!”
Two children saying, “I care about ME more than I care about YOU!”
Two children who feel like they deserve more than what they really deserve…
which is a cross.
And until we begin teaching them this truth with the utmost care and love and gentleness,
they’ll always see their rights…and they might just miss grace.
And what a tragedy that would be!
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
How about you? Please take a moment and share what entitlement issues you see in yourself, or in your children. Let’s commit together to prefer others over ourselves…and to teach our children to do the same!