The Battle of Rights

There is a very high sense of entitlement within modern society. Older people feel entitled to certain benefits from the government. Middle-aged people feel entitled to generous health and retirement benefits from their employers. Younger adults feel entitled to immediately enjoy the same standard of living their parents took years to achieve. And young people feel entitled to whatever material luxuries they desire.

Many observers of our culture are quite concerned about this pervasive sense of "rights" and expectations within our society as a whole. But for Christians, such a high sense of entitlement is especially detrimental to our spiritual lives. For one thing, God is the ultimate supplier of all our needs and desires. Every good gift is from Him, regardless of the intermediate means through which that gift is supplied. As James said, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). However, God, through His providential workings, almost always uses some person or institution or other human instrumentality to meet our needs. Ultimately, though, He is the One who provides or withholds what we desire or think we need.

Therefore, a high sense of entitlement and expectations, though seemingly directed toward some person or institution, is actually directed toward God and His providential dealings in our lives. If we do not receive what we think we have a right to expect, it is ultimately God who has withheld.

More importantly, our sense of entitlement, which may be originally directed toward other people or institutions, is almost invariably transferred directly to God. We begin to be as demanding of our "rights" before God as we are toward people. It is bad enough, and certainly not very Christian, to have the attitude "The world owes me something just because I am," but to have the attitude that God owes me something is exceedingly dangerous to spiritual health. It will ruin our relationship with God, nullify our effectiveness in ministry, and perhaps turn us bitter or resentful. Unlike our government, or school, or family, or employer, God will not "give in" to our sense of rights or respond to pressure tactics. We never win the battle of "rights" with God. He cares too much about our spiritual growth to let that happen.

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