Entitlement: What Do You Deserve?
- November 26, 2018
- Jared Odenbeck
Thanksgiving and Christmas inundate society with countless advertisements and commercials that push the necessity of a consumer mindset. One line that grabbed my attention came from the end of a Crown Royal ad, where the tagline read, “Live generously and life will treat you generously.”
Immediately, I thought, “what was that?” I wrote it down and contemplated the meaning of the phrase for a few minutes. Epiphanies came quickly. I realized that collectively, the western world (especially the US) believes that the “universe”, our life, and our circumstances must react to us according to our personal performance. It is as if the world operates according to the rules of a great exchange of sorts. Do one thing, get another. In Crown Royal’s case, they would say that one who lives with generosity will receive generosity in return.
Now, I know that life does not work this way. But, it prompted a number of questions to rise in me that we should explore.
What are we owed and what do we deserve?
What is coming to us?
I always catch myself in entitlement. I believe I deserve something because of my performance in personal holiness. I maintained a streak of obedience – or seeming obedience, because I stumble and sin often without knowing it – so therefore I merit that which I desire. In this way, entitlement is dangerous, because it breeds disappointment. Through it, we essentially chalk God down to owe us that which he has not promised. When that thug fails to come, we accuse him, question our own performance, and, typically, fall into despair.
We must escape the clutches of this mentality. We must simultaneously understand both what we deserve and what is coming to us. Tim Keller says, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” There it is. What are we owed? Wrath in our sinfulness. What is coming and what have we already received? Love and acceptance in Jesus Christ.
When I know something will come to me, that I will surely possess it and cannot lose it, it changes how I act and behave. It reassures me even in the face of adversity. Why? Because my eyes fix themselves on the reward, on the gain. That is why we must fix our eyes on Jesus and continually preach the Gospel to ourselves. If we lose sight of them, discouragement will gradually overtake us and drag us towards self-contempt and fear.
But, knowledge of the future alleviates anxiety and fear. And we have that knowledge through the Word of God. While we know what will come, I concede that much of the day-to-day trials and circumstances escape our understanding. But, those trifle in comparison to secure and guaranteed eternity with the Rock of Ages.
This is the good news of the Gospel and the comfort amidst the pain and tribulation of life. We deserve the very worst punishment imaginable, yet through the unmerited, unearned grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, we receive the greatest imaginable reward, far beyond any gain that we could conceive of. Even greater than life giving us what we deserve. Thanks be to God that it does not go like that.