There is much talk about those with the entitlement mentality. It really should be no surprise, since the Bible told us the days were coming when this very attitude would impregnate the world. It just didn’t use the word, “entitlement.” Take a look at one scripture text:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
How did it get here, and how did it get so pervasive in our time and culture? In simple shorthand, it came in through lust and pride. Of what do the things of the world consist as defined in 1 John 2:16? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (see verse for full context). Frankly, these characteristics have been around since Genesis. It is definitely not new.
Some might say social media is culpable, but is it really? Perhaps, it serves more as a magnifying glass, exposing the condition of hearts. It actually is neutral in nature. How it gets used is determined by the users; who incidentally, are free to shut it off anytime. People do use it to influence others, positive or negative. Keep in mind also that people choose what content they digest. Without going too crazy on this topic, one thing social media highlights is the pride life. How many engage on the various platforms in order to become famous? To what end? How many choose only the best pictures to represent themselves? A little crop here, a little photo-shop there and viola, the perfect picture! At the same time, there is a call for the genuine where people simply share who they are in the moment. Social media may or may not be a cause of entitlement, but it can definitely feed into it. It still boils down to the user.
Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Parenting or its lack is another thing at play when it comes to the entitlement culture. When society abandons biblical principles in the name of being progressive, we cannot expect things such as work ethic, discipline and genuine service to others to continue. To be fair, not every culture was based on biblical principles. Nonetheless, if parents do not properly engage with their children, there will be consequences. That includes standing between their children and society. Parenting requires a backbone. Generally, parents want their children to have better lives than they had. Some of the methods parents (collectively speaking) implemented while trying to make things better may have backfired. For example, overly protecting them from failure actually sets them up for serious failure. How can they learn without occasionally making mistakes? Yes, children’s mental and emotional wellbeing need protecting, but if they’re insulated too much from pain, they may be headed toward unbelievable agony when no one is there to shield them from it.
Hebrews 5:8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. This passage of Scripture is actually referring to Jesus. Suffering is not all bad. It actually helps us come to be our best version. Do remember that a time is coming when there will be no more misery; but until then, don’t shun it too much. Believe it or not, a good deal of society’s ills are the result of trying to avoid pain. Why are so many on medication or abusing drugs? God, Who is the Ultimate Parent, disciplines His children because He loves them (see Hebrews 12:4-13).
Another side issue is when parents are insecure, they tend to give in to their child’s every demand. Because they don’t love themselves properly as God loves them, they have an unhealthy desire to be loved or liked by their child. As a result, they hand the reigns over to the child. Children need to be trained in order to properly handle authority. If someone doesn’t tell his or her child “no” at the appropriate time, that child is in trouble. Insecurity keeps things out of balance. The opposite extreme also results from insecurity. This is where child abuse comes in and destroys the child. Rage may make someone feel empowered, but it embitters the child to say the least. Bitterness also leads to feelings of entitlement, which will be addressed in greater detail next time.
How many know that change can be scary for some people? Yes, there is the fear of the unknown associated with change; however, there is also the fear of the known. More specifically, the fear of leaving what people have known all their lives, even if it’s a change for the better. They are comfortable where they are in life, in spite of the fact it may be a terrible place in which to exist. This runs deeper than the proverbial “get out of your comfort zone.” It’s a place of safety where they know the rules of the game, so to speak. They know how to at least survive there. For some, mere survival is good; but, it is not God’s best for them!
Moreover, some fear leaving people behind. Change might mean some sort of separation, whether it’s less time spent together, or even an all-out departure or estrangement. Some are horrified of rejection, which means the simple thought of being rejected by friends and loved ones serves as a barrier to it. Generally, no one likes being scoffed at, but it’s a minor price to pay for the best you ever. If your friends criticize or flat reject you because you’re making a positive move in the right direction, then it begs the question, what kind of friends are they really? Of course, misery does love company. On the other hand, if you change, you may influence them to change for the better as well. Yes, it takes courage!
Whether or not a change means a new address, one thing is certain, without a spiritual change, you’ll never be your best version until you do. You may never physically leave, but you will need to leave certain schools of thought. Some of which, you should never have been enrolled in to begin with. It wouldn’t have hurt you if you got straight Fs and were expelled. Nonetheless, here you are with some wrong thoughts and imaginations that you've embraced all your life. These are also biblically known as strongholds (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). They do need to be cast down and utterly destroyed. Some of them have hindered the way you look at God, others and yourself. For example, some grew up believing that they’re worthless and are not valued by anyone else, including God. That sounds extreme, but you’d be surprised by how many people fit in this category. The idea that they are of immense worth and are greatly loved by God totally wrecks them. Several of them are so against the idea that they will sabotage themselves to disprove it. Until they conclude that God is good and He loves them, they’ll be hard pressed to move on. Furthermore, they need to learn to love themselves as God loves them. Once they do that, or at least start moving in that direction, they’ll start changing for the better.
Some have made idols out their misconceptions. There are those who get a strange kick out being rejected by others. They glory in it as they expound on it to others. It’s as if rejection is some sort of badge of honor. While it’s an honor to be persecuted and rejected for Jesus’ sake, it’s hardly the same thing. The point is that as a long as people make pets out their hurts and strongholds, they’re not going to change. If your hurt or stronghold means more to you than God’s love for you, you have an idol.
While it’s true we walk by faith and not by sight, walking by faith means a departure from the familiar and moving to the unfamiliar. The promise land is not found in your old haunts; it’s found where God leads you. We do not navigate to new territory on our own; rather, we follow the Lord, and He gets us there. That takes a lot of pressure off. Think about this: if Abraham had not left the familiar in obedience to God, chances are you would not have a walk of faith. Remember, Jesus came from the line of Abraham. Genesis 12:1-2Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing” (Read all of his story, starting in Genesis 11:26). Whether we realize it or not, our walk of faith is also part of our journey to becoming who God intended us to be -the image of Jesus. It starts with the willingness to say, “Yes, Lord!”
1 Peter 1:3-9Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
In a world where pleasure is emphasized, it would be easy to become self-absorbed, and thus, forgetting all things were created by God, and for His pleasure they were created (see Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11). The self-absorbed believe they’re the center of the universe. They are also self-deceived. They are headed toward destruction and don’t realize it. We cannot be too hard on them, because many of us were also in that category until we met Jesus. As a matter of fact, we really need to be compassionate toward them, since ultimately their destruction is eternal, unless they too meet Him. Ironically, they can be some of the most difficult people to be compassionate toward, especially if there is arrogance involved. How many of us were shocked and broken when we woke up and saw our spiritual condition? It is good to remember where we came from in order to hold things in perspective. That doesn’t mean relive our past or become negative toward ourselves; just learn from it.
Have you ever noticed yourself having self-absorbed moments, perhaps seasons, even after becoming a believer? This underscores the need to renew your mind and put things in good order. This serves as a reminder to be compassionate. We all are susceptible to self-deception if we lose perspective by becoming complacent in our walk. It pays to ask ourselves, “Whose pleasure are you most interested in?” The Bible says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalms 37:4). So, while He is very much interested in your desires, are you interested in His?
Until we as a collective, get serious about His desires and serving at His pleasure, we’ll never be who we’re supposed to be: one Body. Individually, your most joyful place in life is in the center of God’s will. The more a person moves away from center, the less joy he or she will have. Why has there been so much division in the Church? The devil? Not really. He doesn’t have that kind of power. Sure, he is deceptive, and a number have fallen prey to his deception; but ultimately, it’s on us.
James 4:1-3What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
What would happen if every individual, every member of the Body of Christ actually zeroed in on the will of God and submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ? What if each of us legitimately endeavored to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (see Ephesians 4:1-3). What if we actually loved one another as we are supposed to? Do you think perhaps, just perhaps, we would become one Body? Think of all the broken and strained relationships that would be healed, if we simply did things His way. How much more effective would we be in making disciples of all the nations, if we simply agreed with Jesus (see Matthew 28:19)?
Luke 6:46-49“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
How do I change my life? Have you ever asked yourself that question? One thing should be clear to all of us is that we cannot change it on our own. Philippians 1:6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (see also Ephesians 2:10). Ultimately, God does the work; nevertheless, He has left a lot up to us as well. Cooperation needs to take place. In one sense, it is not automatic; and yet, we all experience changes we did not implement within ourselves. We simply cannot explain them. So, how do we change our lives?
The secret sauce: repentance. It has been taught repentance is a change of direction. That is to say, as are going one direction, we do an about face, and go the opposite way. Acts gives us a picture of it when Saul (the Apostle Paul) first met Jesus: “. . . I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:17-18). To a large degree, this is a true definition, but it does need refinement. Repentance is not mere behavior modification; it is thought modification. It means to change your mind or the way you think. In short, to think differently. True repentance means to conform to God’s way of thinking. If you don’t think differently, you will remain in the same boat, going wherever the current takes you. Some try to do the 180 degree pivot with some success; only to suddenly find themselves going back the other direction again. They addressed the behavior, but did not address what was in their heart. Until you thought differently about sin, did it ever occur to you to ask God for forgiveness and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Thank You, Holy Spirit! John 16:8 And He (Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Even with His convicting or convincing you of your sin, you still had to come into agreement with Holy Spirit before you asked.
If you want to change your life, you need to agree with God. Make the decision in your heart that He is right. He is right, regardless of whether or not you think so! In one sense, Adam and Eve actually had to make a decision to become sinners. They were created righteous, but in essence, God gave them the decision to stay that way or rebel. Similarly, you were born into sin. Even though Jesus died and resurrected for your sins, so you could be righteous, it was not automatic. You had to decide whether you were going to partake of His righteous nature. No one gets highjacked into Heaven. Likewise, if you don’t want to conform to the image of Jesus, you don’t have to. The choice is yours. Choose wisely!
While in the world, our thinking was corrupted. By maintaining that way of thinking, we would continue in the same old life patterns. If you think and do the same things, you will remain the same. God’s grace empowers you to make the right decisions and choices. It enables you to change your thought life. It empowers you to change your life! If you receive a bad report about yourself, you will tend to conform your life to what you believe. However, if you believe what God actually does think about you, that will change. You are designed a specific way, so conform to your design. You’re not doomed to a miserable, unfulfilling lifestyle; unless you want to be.
This is huge: do not blame others for your plight in life. Some people refuse to take responsibility for their own lives. They still blame the devil, even though Jesus stripped him of his power (see Colossians 2:15). Look, even if you had the worse parents on the planet or no parents at all, you can still become the best version of you possible. You cannot keep blaming them or anyone else, if you decide not to change. That’s on you. If God is your Father, you have the Ultimate Parent Who can raise you above adversity. In fact, He already gave you the victory through Jesus Christ. If you made a bad decision that put you in a bad place, own it! Don’t blame someone else.
Here are some reminders to help you change. Number one: Spend time with God - lots of time! Number two: spend time in your Bible every day. These two actions alone will absolutely change your life. Simple! Number three: learn. For example, if you don’t handle money well, learn from those who do. Read, listen to audiobooks and so on. Get educated. Get the knowledge (the what), wisdom (the how) and understanding (the why). In the case of finances, if you don’t have a proper grasp on them, you will be hard pressed to steward them well. Change the way you think, and you will change the way you live. Renew your mind!