Lately, I’ve been thinking about entitlement and selfishness, a topic that troubles me greatly. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that this character trait, along with poor communication, is a main cause of society’s problems.
All my life, I’ve been told I’m selfish, often by people more selfish than I am. It’s truly become a sore subject with me. I try to do whatever I can to not be selfish, and have become quite defensive about the whole notion! But, no matter how far I think I’ve come in being ‘self-less’, the fact still remains – I am selfish. We all are!
I don’t mean to make excuses, but it is rather easy to be selfish and entitled in our culture. Commercials tell us “You deserve a break today”; there are songs about wanting “More”; we deserve education, degrees, our job, the good life, everything!
Young people seem to be even more entitled than their parents’ generation (I’m sure this is true in past generations too). I think that’s because we want to give our children the things we never had. It’s an act of love, with an undesired side-effect. Essentially, one cause of selfishness and thus, entitlement, is someone else’s loving attempt at being selfless!
This makes selfishness and entitlement very sticky subjects and not easy to remedy. Trying to be less selfish isn’t really the answer….because it is actually a re-representation of the problem. I mean, isn’t it kind of selfish to think we can become less selfish? Aren’t we awfully entitled to feel we have that ability?
This is one of the thoughts that came to me while studying the book of Job. Job was given a bad deal, let’s face it. He was a good man, who had it pretty together. He didn’t ‘deserve’ to have anything bad happen to him. He wasn’t very selfish by our human standards. He had every right to be entitled because he worked hard for what he had. He lived a Godly life, and cared for others above himself. Even when his life collapsed, he amazingly never cursed God.
Not only did Job have to deal with Satan’s torture, his wife and friends threw salt in his wounds. Yet, Job remained graceful through everything!
The only negatives were that Job did whine, wished he was never born, and questioned, “Why me, God?”. Job was human, after all…although so much less selfish and entitled than I am! I think about how I would react in the same situation… Well, let’s just say, my laments would make Job seem perfect!
Finally God comes on the scene, to comfort Job, right? To let him in on the little bet between Him and Satan? To tell Job that he didn’t deserve any of his torture and that he handled it incredibly well?
No… Not exactly… God didn’t do any of that! God made a whirlwind of an entrance and essentially asked Job, “Who do you think you are?” God’s point was that until we can do the magnificent things that He can, we shouldn’t question His ways!
My absolute favorite verse is Job 38:3 (KJV, for effect) when God says (before His monologues), “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” God repeats this in verse 40:7, before His second speech, so these words must be important!
God’s speeches were not exactly the heartfelt comfort that Job desired, I’m sure! However, when God was finished talking, Job simply said, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted….therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:2,6).”
Unfortunately, those are not the words I would have chosen, but then again, I’ve never seen a personal display of God’s awesomeness. I’m sure seeing His greatness in person would bring anyone to their knees! But, His power and majesty are the same regardless of what I see, and by faith, I should be as quick to repent!
Job may have never understood why all of those horrible things happened to him, but he learned a lot about God through the process. Even though his former status was restored and his riches were doubled, the wisdom he gained was his most important gift!
Like Job, I am called to release my sense of entitlement and selfishness, and stop demanding what I want from God. I need to “gird up my loins” and let Him control my life!
I know, academically, that God’s plans are significantly better than my own, so I should trust Him completely. Always! And, thinking that I’m doing better than anyone else is pointless! That’s pride…. The truth is, we are all so far away from God’s perfection, our individual differences are meaningless. Whenever we start a thought with “I am,” we’re being selfish because God is the only “I Am” that matters.
Thank you Lord for the incredible riches and opportunities you have given me. May I never forget that everything good is from you, not from any works I have done, nor will ever do. I pray that as a society, we can all return to this truth, and put You first in everything. You are our only hope for escaping the selfishness and entitlement that have taken over our lives. I pray that I can step out of the way and let your love shine though. Guide me to focus my efforts on what matters to You, and may those efforts result in Your glory, not mine. I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus, who died so that I may one day live forever with You in heaven. Amen.