Psalm 45:10-11, 13-15

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take heart to what I say. Forget your people and your homeland far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [...] The bride, a princess, waits within her chambers, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Entitlements: Let’s Get Real

Here are some basic entitlements that will hinder our growth1:

- I have the right to say “no” to God.
- I grow best when everything I want is in order, if those things are absent, I cannot grow.
- I have the right to express my feelings, especially if I determine I have been wrongly treated or inadequately rewarded.
- I have the right to use my time in whatever way I choose.

Here are some basic entitlements that will stunt or eliminate our growth1:

- I have the right to choose who I will talk to.
- I have the right to be critical.
- I need to have a position that is very visible.
- When it comes to discipline, I choose when to reward myself.
- I will do it as soon as other conditions are met.

Don’t be fooled if you look at this list and think, “That’s not me.” We all have some form of entitlement at some level the Lord would love to rid us of. If we think we’re free from entitlements, then we’re fooling ourselves. Oftentimes entitlements are rooted deep within our thought processing and actions. We might not even realize they’re there until we search out for them!

Don’t be afraid to look into your own life and ask God to search your heart—and be completely open to what He will reveal! It’s not shameful to have sin revealed, and then be able to confess the sin. It’s actually very freeing and allows God more access into our lives. Just think of it this way, when sin is revealed and confessed we get a greater portion of God! Now, why wouldn’t we want that?

1 You can find more about entitlements in the Freedom Resource Manual published by Revalesio.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Cost of Following Christ – Part 2

Entitlements are a deadly force to the Christian life. They halt growth, hinder the kingdom of God, and are self-focused about what I want or need. When you strip away all the excuses, reasons, and self that form entitlements what you find is actually rebellion. We are in a sanctifying process growing up to be like Christ. God uses life and circumstances to bring that about. The Lord brings situations into our lives that will test our strength, perseverance, faith, and obedience.

When we allow entitlements to enter that sanctifying process we hinder the work of the Lord in us. We hinder our growth. In essence, we stop pursuing God and working for his kingdom work and turn in the other direction. I once had a pastor say that if you’re not working for God, then you’re working for the enemy. I don’t think any of us want to align ourselves with Satan, however when we allow him to speak lies of entitlements in our lives and then we embrace those entitlements and walk in them we are doing nothing but aligning our self with Satan. If we don’t want to be promoting the wrong kingdom, we must resolve to rid ourselves of those hindrances.

The functioning base of entitlements is that we put limits on what God can ask of us. I think we’d all agree that it is fundamentally wrong for us to tell the Lord what He can or can’t ask of us. What if Abraham had told God it would have been too much to leave his home? What if Esther said, “It’s too risky. I could die”? What if Ruth had stayed in Moab? What if Moses had said, “I can’t go back there?” What if Hosea refused to take back Gomer again and again? What if Joseph said, “But she’s already pregnant?” What if Paul said, “But people will call me a hypocrite?” Aren’t we glad to have a legacy of obedient saints to look to? Each one gave up their own control, fear, and desires to follow the Lord and do what he asked. Don’t forget, each of them was also blessed! Giving up our entitlements does not mean that our lives will be horrible or God will constantly ask things that seem overwhelmingly difficult for us to do.

Look at Moses, God told him to raise up his arms (or was it his staff) over the Red Sea so the people could cross. He could have said, “God this is a ridiculous idea! You want me to hold up my arms so that all the Israelites can pass? How long will that take? Don’t you know we’re being chased down by the Egyptians?” Moses knew God. He knew God, because he had been obedience to God. He trusted God. He wasn’t afraid of the task the Lord might ask of him, he knew that if God asked and he obeyed then it would be good. God had built in him faith and trust through Moses’ previous experiences. But if Moses had held onto his own ways (entitlements), then the outcome would have been drastically different. The same is for us. God will ask us to do things or give up certain things that we feel will be uncomfortable, hard, or even impossible, but they are not. If we follow in obedience and give up our entitlements we will be blessed, and more importantly we will be growing the kingdom and bringing glory to God! Amen.

In the next few days, I'll be adding some more practical application of what entitlements look like and how to pursue ridding them from our lives. Remember, that entitlements aren't just a hindrance to God's work, but they also hinder the freedom and joy that God designed us to live in. Trust God, pursue freedom.

Galatians 5:1, NIV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.