“Entitled American” seems a bit redundant. I know that might not make some people too happy to hear, but the fact remains that the vast majority of Americans have entitlement issues. Of course, we’re not the only nation or people that deal with this issue by any stretch of the imagination. But let’s take a real quick history lesson back to the beginning of our union and remember that we emancipated ourselves from England because we felt we deserved better representation and more rights than we were getting. This isn’t a bad thing, but it has set quite a precedent for the way we as a people interact even today.
I recently read a great book called “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell where at one point he talks about the different cultures around the world and how they deal with power. As many of us are aware, we talk to our bosses and talk about our presidents and authority figures much differently than someone would in, say, Japan or Cuba. The point is we feel we have the right to say such things. We deserve it. But I think that sometimes the thought of what we deserve can get us into some serious trouble. In fact, I would argue that the devil has been using the “you deserve this” trap for centuries to ensnare people.
Just take a look:
- Adam deserved to be able to be just like God. After all, they were best of friends. He shouldn’t be held out on.
- Cain deserved to have his sacrifice accepted as well as Abel’s.
- Noah deserved to have a bit of a celebration for finally getting off the boat.
- Lot deserved to be able to live where he wanted.
- Jacob deserved to be blessed and have the birthright more than his foolish and rash brother.
- Joseph’s brothers didn’t deserve constantly having to hear Joseph talk about how they’d bow down to him.
- Pharoah deserved to continue to benefit from people who had risen up to great numbers under his great leadership and provision.
- The Israelites deserved better than just manna and quail.
- Achan deserved some of the profit from a great battle he had worked diligently to help win.
- Gideon deserved to be afraid that so few men would be able to defeat such a large enemy.
- Samson deserved to have love and to be admired and cared for by whomever his heart desired.
- Israel deserved to have the same strong structure that other nations had with a king to rule over them.
- Saul deserved to be concerned that a young hero would try to usurp his authority and take his throne.
- David deserved to have the woman of his choosing. After all, he was king and a good one at that!
And that’s just a small part of the Old Testament! We have always, throughout the course of history from the very beginning, had this issue with what we deserve. And you and I deal with it even now as we go through life. I’m right, aren’t I?
- You deserve to be paid more than they’re paying you anyway. So cutting corners is only fair.
- You deserve to be bitter about what that person did to you.
- You deserve to be depressed about the way your life is going.
- You deserve to have better parents than you do, so there’s no need to respect them.
- You deserve to get a good grade in this class, so it doesn’t matter if you have to cheat a little to get there.
- You deserve to have the pleasure of physical fun, even if it is “unhealthy.”
- You deserve to be entertained by whatever it is that entertains you.
And the list could go on and on and on and on. We are fully convinced that we deserve so many things. We have rights that need to be met. If we have desires then we must be allowed to do whatever it takes to meet them. That’s just fair. Or maybe, just maybe, having our every whim and desire met instantly in whatever way we see fit is a perfect definition for bondage and captivity.
The devil convinces us that we deserve something, something that may not even be bad in itself. But then we go after it outside of God’s timing or outside of His perfect will for our lives and what we “deserved” ends up being our very punishment. You deserved to fool around with that guy who made you feel so special, but did you deserve to feel so empty then when he later decided he wasn’t interested anymore? You deserved to say what you felt in the moment of anger, but did you deserve to lose that friendship over something you later realized wasn’t that big of a deal?
So be careful of what you think you deserve, because rights can far too easily turn into chains.
And you deserve so much more than that!