In some of the more affluent places in the world, the entitlement mentality has crept into the Church. People have come to believe that they have rights, and have a right to have more. Somehow, God owes them more than they deserve, even though everyone on the planet deserves the wrath of God. For some reason, the Blood of Jesus Christ just is not enough, and His grace is not sufficient anymore. Even though Jesus said, “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, KJV), they want a mansion on earth as well. Whether it is the fancy home or a fancy church building, anything less is not good enough for them. They try to acquire things that fulfill their lusts by misapplying Scripture, while calling it “spiritual.” The bottom line is they want God to serve them. The question is: what does the Word say about our rights, and the right to have more? Before going any farther, lets be clear: there is nothing wrong with having a mansion or a nice church building in of itself. The very thing behind having it may be the issue.
We begin to address the first question with 1Corinthians 6:19-20, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (emphasis added, KJV). Perhaps a better question to ask is: what rights? If we are no longer our own, but belong to God, how can we demand anything? Our so-called rights are subject to what God says they are. The truth is that we do not have rights; we have privileges. We have blessings, but they are not something we can rightfully demand. Furthermore, those blessings are not intended to fulfill our lusts; rather, they are intended to glorify God. He gives us blessings because He loves us, and so that we in turn can be a blessing to others. In essence, our “right” is to glorify God. Some might say, “I’m a son of God and can possess the land.” Okay, you are a son of God, but how is a son or daughter of God suppose to act? What attitude is he or she supposed to possess? If you can possess the land, what are you supposed to do with it? Jesus modeled what that looks like, and made Himself subject to the Father, even though He did indeed have rights! As a son or daughter, you can have what Daddy says you can have. Perhaps our “rights” looks more like this: “Father, not my will be done, but thine.”
What does God’s entitlement program looks like? Lets start with Hebrews 13:5, Let your conversation (manner, or character) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (KJV). 1Timothy 6:6-8 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (KJV). Regardless of what we possess or do not possess, we are supposed to be content with what we do have. Being content does not necessarily mean that we have to do without; it means we are not going to covet more. Paul puts things in perspective in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (KJV). Paul knew what it was to have much, and to have little or nothing. Regardless of his condition, he learned to be content, and did so through Jesus Christ. Believe it or not, some need to learn to be content with much, just as those who need to be content with little.
If one ever comes to believe he is owed a living, consider 2Thessalonians 3:7-10, “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (emphasis added, KJV). Paul lived a life of service, and even though he could have demanded support from different churches, he did not. Everyone who is able should do his or her part. While compassion is as a subject in of itself, here is a question: is it compassionate to reward bad behavior? When someone is able to supply for himself, but refuses to do his part, is it a good thing to keep bailing him out of trouble? Perhaps the most compassionate thing would be tough love. That is to say, let them hit bottom, so they will do their part, and in so doing move upward. This is not talking about those who are going through a tough time and need a hand up; this refers to those who are being slothful.
We will experience greater joy when we are more concerned with God’s desires, and serve Him as faithful sons and daughters. If we demand our own way, our joy will dissipate because our relationship with God will diminish. One final question: will we freely serve Him out of love, regardless of our circumstances? When it comes to entitlements, perhaps it would be good to remember Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (KJV).