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"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
~ Declaration of Independence of the United States of America
If there is a line to be drawn between justly affirming unalienable rights and selfishly demanding perceived rights, it might be summed up in the phrase entitlement mentality.
Entitlement mentality goes beyond, "I have a right to a comfortable wage, full coverage health care, and paid time off." It might also say:
I am entitled to live free of suffering / inconvenience / annoyance.
I am entitled to the honor of my children / love of my husband / respect of my wife.
I have accepted Jesus and am entitled to God's mercy.
I have obeyed God and have a right to His blessing.
I am entitled to what I want at another's expense.
Saints are not immune to the entitlement mentality which tends to assert itself as sin.
David—the man after God's own heart—saw himself as entitled to both intimacy with another man's wife and a reputation free of adultery. Moses—more humble "than all men"—resisted God's calling more than once, and argued that he shouldn't be burdened with responsibility for the Israelites. Job—"blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil"—nonetheless insisted that God owed him an explanation for his suffering.
These men and others of the Bible had happy endings once they shed their entitlement mentality. Jonah's story ends less happily because he clung to it. What bitter irony that in asserting what more we should have, we're never satisfied with what we've got.
(how sweet the sound!)
that saved a wretch like me ..."
~ John Newton
Is there a happier place than to be repulsed by one's sin, comprehend the condemnation sin has earned, and then receive the gift of God Himself and eternal life?
How do we detour from this path of joy and find ourselves on the broad road which both takes salvation for granted and believes we are entitled to something more?
Now godliness with contentment is great gain... And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
~ 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NKJV)
Powerful testimonies come from Christians who experience extreme suffering, who lack even adequate food and clothing, or who endure horrific persecution—and maintain the joy of their salvation.
Does being utterly destitute of everything except God make Him enough?
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation ...
~ Psalms 51:12 (NKJV)
If compelled to explain why I am entitled to anything more than the lowest caste Indian, who lives in a squatters' village built on a garbage dump, would asserting my U.S. nativity suffice?
If I wish to be restored to the joy of my salvation, perhaps the place to start is by exiting the road to entitlement and getting back on the path of believing I am a wretch who deserves nothing. Walking that road keeps me happily grateful for Him who is my All in All.
"I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant."
~ Genesis 32:10 (NKJV)
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