On Entitlement

On Entitlement

Sermon Preached by Joshua Dykes at the Swartz Creek Church of Christ on Oct. 23rd, 2022

Good evening! I hope all of you have had a great Sunday thus far – it has been a while since I had last preached a sermon here because of all the traveling that I have had to do, but I am very thankful to be able to dive into God’s Word with you again this evening.

The subject of my lesson for this evening is Entitlement. Again, we are going to be talking about Entitlement. Entitlement is a word that we hear a lot nowadays. All you have to do is watch or listen to the news, whether it is liberal or conservative – it doesn’t matter, just turn it on for 1 hour and I guarantee you will hear it at least 3 times. “This group is entitled to this right.” “This group is more entitled than that group.” “A woman is entitled or isn’t entitled to kill a child in the womb.” “Low skill laborers are entitled or aren’t entitled to the same pay as their white collar managers.” We live in an age of entitlement!! But what is it? What does it mean to be entitled to something and how should Christians view entitlement?? These are questions that we will answer during this sermon.

Before I give the outline for our lesson this morning, I would invite you to turn in your Bibles to Romans 6:23. Again, I will be reading Romans 6:23.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As we discuss Entitlement, this is not our primary passage for this lesson, but I think it is important that this passage is mentioned at the very beginning of a sermon discussing entitlement. As we go through each and every passage we are about to look at during this lesson, I want you to have this passage on your minds. Unlike most of my other lessons, this is a topical lesson. And because it is topical and since we will be jumping around the Bible this evening, I ask that you please have this passage on your minds so that we have something to tie this entire lesson together at its end.

So the outline of my lesson is as follows:

We will first begin with the Answers to the Question of Entitlement. What is it? In the first part of this lesson, this will be our primary focus and objective – finding out what entitlement is and where it originates from.

After we have answered these questions, we will then move to the next part of our lesson – Sin and Entitlement. In this part of the lesson, we will uncover how sin and entitlement are intertwined with one another.

And in the last part of my lesson, we will talk about The Christian Walk in an Entitle-filled World. 

Answers to the Question of Entitlement

Let us begin with the answers to the question of entitlement. What is it?

  • It is an invention of the mind.

A couple of weeks ago, I put on Facebook and Instagram. I asked what definition they would put to the word “Entitlement.” One definition was “an expectation of privilege.” Another definition I got was “a feeling of ownership or possession where there is, in fact, no actual ownership or possession.” Someone else said that Entitlement is “the belief that oneself deserves special treatment or privilege.” In all three of these definitions, it is shown that Entitlement is an emotion. It’s a feeling, an expectation, and it is a belief. All of these things exist within the human mind. Faith is also a feeling, expectation, and belief – but it is based on evidence of God’s work around us as we see in Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 1:20. 

  • It can blend into one’s personality and behavior.

Some have said that if you give a politician an inch, they will turn it into a mile. The same thing can be said, however, concerning every human being in regards to entitlement. If one feels as if they deserve a privilege or special treatment, then it will become evident in their actions and how they feel about others. We have all likely seen the videos on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. Some angry entitled individuals (most people call them “Karens”) getting mad at restaurant workers or spouting out insults at individuals that may have slightly inconvenienced them. Their personality and their actions are influenced by the entitlement that they feel in that moment. In just a little bit, we will look at many examples of individuals whose actions were influenced by the entitlement they felt they had.

  • It is often the work of Satan himself.

Entitlement is the work of Satan himself. In Genesis 2:16-17, God gave to Adam and Eve two things, a command and a choice. Now it can be said that choice in of itself is entitlement and it depends on how you look at it. Do we deserve choice? Or is it because of God’s grace and allowance that we have a choice? Either way, God gave a command to Adam to not eat of a particular tree. It is written in Genesis 2,

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘you are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will surely die.’”

Now Adam and Eve had lived in harmony with God for a while, that was until Satan in the form of a serpent entered into the picture. Satan, in Genesis 3, convinces Eve that she is entitled to the fruit that God had forbidden.

“‘No! You will not die,’ the serpent said to the woman. In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Satan had convinced Eve that she was entitled to be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil. Satan convinced Eve and Adam that she was entitled to partake in that which looked delightful to their eyes. Entitlement, oftentimes, is the work of Satan himself. 

Sin and Entitlement

Now that we have uncovered what entitlement is and where it originates from, I want us to see what ways sin and entitlement are intertwined with one another. As already mentioned, Eve and Adam had a sense of entitlement when the very first sin was committed. However, as we look through the scriptures, I argue that we find in every instance of a wicked deed, there is a sense of entitlement being had. 

  • The Golden Calf

In Exodus 32, we see that Moses had delayed in coming down from the mountain, so the people gathered around Aaron and asked him to make gods for them. In verses 7 and following, God speaks to Moses and states some rather interesting things concerning the attitude of the Israelites.

“The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’’ The Lord also said to Moses: ‘I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

The first thing God states about these people is how they have acted corruptly. To be corrupt is to be dishonest for a personal gain. They felt as if serving this false idol and god was something that could bring them some benefit, but they were only lying to themselves. They felt as if they were entitled to their own man-made gods, this was moral corruption. Then we see God tell Moses they have “quickly turned from the way I commanded them.” Just as we have seen in Genesis 3, a feeling of Entitlement can result in turning away from what God has commanded. In 1 John 3:4, it is written “Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” In Exodus 32, the Israelites, by feeling entitled to their own gods, break God’s command and law; therefore, they are committing sin. But this is just the first example I have of entitlement and sin being intertwined. 

  • King David

In 2 Samuel 11, we read of King David dealing with his bout of Entitlement. David should be on the front lines with his men, but instead he stays in Jerusalem. And he takes a stroll onto the roof of his palace. Read with me 2 Samuel 11:2-4.

“One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing – a very beautiful woman. So David sent someone to enquire about her, and he said, ‘Isn’t this Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hethite?’ David sent messengers to get her, and when she came to him, he slept with her. Now she had just been purifying herself from her uncleanness. Afterward, she returned home.” 

If we skip down to the end of the chapter in verse 27, after David had Uriah killed through an elaborate scheme and had taken Bathsheba to be his new wife, that “the Lord considered what David had done to be evil.” But that wasn’t the end of the story. In the next Chapter, 2 Samuel 12, God sends the Prophet Nathan to teach and rebuke David. Read what the Lord says to David beginning in verse 8.

“I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. Why then have you despised the Lord’s command by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hethite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife – you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword.”

David, just as Eve was enticed by the fruit, and just as the people of Israel desired their own gods, he felt entitled to have a wife that was not his. And God calls this act by David a despisal of His commands, an act of evil. In this very passage, we again see someone feeling entitled and the sinful actions that follow.

  • Ourselves

The Israelites had felt entitled at times, and David had his moment of feeling entitled, and there are many other individuals and nations that are alike them: Nebuchadnezzar had his battle with pride and entitlement in Daniel 4, in Ezra 10, we read of the Jews possessing foreign wives – an act that the Ezra calls unfaithfulness. However, this is not something we only see in the Old Testament, in the New Testament and today we still see sin and entitlement being intertwined with one another. 

Every human being has sin in their lives (Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8). And in the book of James 1, we read of the recipe for sin. Beginning in verse 13…

“No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

We are tempted when we are drawn and enticed by our own evil desire. A desire (according to Collins Dictionary) is a strong feeling, worthy or unworthy, that impels to the attainment or possession of something. Desires are natural, and so is temptation. Unfortunately, in our society today, however, we are seeing the normalization of being entitled to meet our desires? What do I mean by this??

I will use an example from one of my favorite shows: Parks and Recreation. In one episode, two workers of the Parks Department named Tom and Donna get to the office and are very happy because they are about to celebrate their annual “Treat Yo-Self Day.” What they do is they go to the mall and they shop at different stores. If Tom and Donna see something that they like, they buy it. They do not worry about the price, they do not worry about what others think of what they buy, they just simply treat themselves. 

But we see this on a whole other level when we talk about sins like immodesty, sexual immorality, greed (both personal and corporate), abortion, drunkeness, and many others. Our fleshly minds and corrupt hearts have told us that if we see someone we like, it doesn’t matter if they are of the same sex or married, we are entitled to them. Our fleshly minds and corrupt hearts have told us that if we want to wear extremely immodest clothing, do it! The sin is on the other person. Our fleshly minds and corrupt hearts have told us that you should enjoy yourself when you party. Drink as much as you can and treat yourself! 

But it can exist even at a different level too, can it? These are only the sins that many view as taboo, but all sin is equal in the eyes of God, and we know this because the wages of sin is death – one equal penalty (Romans 6:23). What about missing church services for a sports event? Isn’t that rooted in entitlement? Feeling more entitled to the company of non-Christians than to the fellowship of our fellow saints in God? What about uttering words that do not align with the speech a Christian is supposed to have (James 3)? What about not forgiving those who have wronged us, are we any more entitled or deserving than they are (Matt. 5:43-48)? 

We live in an Entitle-Filled world.

The Christian Walk In an Entitle-Filled World (H.O.P.E.)

How do we walk, as Christians in an Entitle-filled world? Now I am not going to say “Entitled” world, because none of us are entitled. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and if we recall Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death. So how do we live in a world full of entitlement as faithful Christians? 

  • Humble yourself

The first thing we need to do is humble ourselves. If we want to avoid being drawn into the enticing desires of the world or being beaten down by those who project their entitlement onto us, then we need to remain humble. 

Israel needed to be humbled, and Moses made them eat and drink the ashes of the golden calf (Exodus 32:20). David needed to be humbled, so God sent Nathan to correct David (2 Samuel 12:1). Nebuchadnezzar, having possessed a massive ego, needed to be humbled; so God caused Nebuchadnezzar to act as a wild beast until he repented (Daniel 4:34ff).

We too, need to be humble lest we become the ones who are humbled by God Himself. Jesus states in Matthew 23:12, just before he gives warnings to the scribes and Pharisees, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Humbling ourselves comes in many different forms, but we have to understand that first and foremost that humbling ourselves involves an evaluation. 

We have to evaluate the state of our current attitude and heart. Do we show the love that we need to show? Are we doing things with a mind of the flesh, and are we giving into its desires? Or are we doing things with the mind set on the Spirit, and therefore doing the good that is required of us (Romans 7-8)? We have to humble ourselves if we ever want to be successful in navigating this entitle-filled world.

  • Open your heart to God

The next thing we need to do is open our heart to God. If we humble ourselves, there ought be a void in our lives that needs to be filled. All of the material possessions and things that can bring pride to us are not proper ways to fill this void, as all of them are vanity (Solomon certainly states this on numerous occasions in writing Ecclesiastes). How do we open our hearts to God? 

In Acts 8 beginning in verse 14, I want us to read of an individual named Simon who was a sorcerer, and I want us to see the steps that was taken for him to open up his heart to God.

“When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. After they went down there, they prayed for them so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit because he had not yet come down on any of them. (They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter told him, “May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your heart’s intent may be forgiven.” “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon replied, “so that nothing you have said may happen to me.””

Simon had filled his heart with an evil intent – to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit for selfish purposes. He believed that he was entitled to possess the same gift that Peter, the Apostles, and those they had laid hands on had possessed. Because of Simon’s selfish intent, Peter had instructed Simon to fix his heart by repenting and praying. Like Simon, when we find temptation or a self-desire before us, we have to be sure to pray to God. In 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, Paul writes…

“So whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.”

We need to open our hearts to God and his ways, because he shows us how to navigate an entitle- filled world. With our temptations, God helps provide us with a way of escape, a way that we will discuss in just a little bit.

  • Place God first

We humble ourselves, we open our hearts to God, now we need to place God first. How do we place God first in our lives? This is very closely linked with opening our hearts to God, but I’d like to think that this is taking it a step further. 

It is one thing to become a Christian, but it is another thing entirely to remain a Christian. When someone becomes a Christian by hearing, believing, confessing, and by being baptized – then he or she has made the decision to have God fill the void in their life.  However, as we will see in a moment, if God does not become the driving force behind every action, thought, desire, want, or worship, then that individual will not remain a true Christian for long. 

In Mark 4, after Jesus gives the parable of the sower, he gives an explanation for his disciples, look with me beginning in verses 18 concerning the seeds sown among thorns.

“Others are like seed sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

Isn’t it often true that some Christians feel as if obeying God is a “one and done” kind of deal. Once baptism has been marked off the list of things to do, it’s just easy cruise control to the end? And is it also often true, as mentioned earlier, that the desires that are present in the world are often objects we feel entitled to? The only way we can feel differently is if these things are put lower on our lists of affection and desire. 

  • Exercise and examine

The fourth thing we need to consider to avoid falling to the entitle-filled world is exercise and examine our faith. This is something that we need to be doing constantly. David, the King who felt entitled to Bathsheba, had to contanstantly exercise and examine his faith. Many view Psalms as a songbook and that is exactly what it is, but I also think we could view the Psalms of David as sort of a journal that he possessed to help grow his faith, and to call himself to self-reflection.

Psalm 51 is the Psalm of Restoration – written after Nathan exposed David’s sin to him. I wish I had time to read the entire thing, but since we are short on time, I want us to only look at verses 10 through 14 of Psalm 51.

“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious your ways, and sinners will return to you.”

David noticed his heart was not clean. He noticed that he was removed from the presence of God. He had realized that the joy of salvation was taken from him. He did not say that he deserved these things. Nor did he believe that he was entitled to them – he believed and knew of the justice of God and therefore wanted to align himself again with God’s will.

And this brings me back to Romans 6:23. This is the verse we started with this evening. 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We are not entitled to anything. We learn from Romans 3 that there is none good, not one. We are entitled to nothing, but we are deserving of death. The salvation we enjoy and have through Jesus Christ is not one that is earned, deserved, and we are certainly not entitled to it. Every blessing that we have is a gift of God. Every breath that we take is a gift of God. We cannot wake up in the morning, and not be thankful for our God that allows us to have another day though we do not deserve it. 

This evening, I want you to know that you can enjoy the spiritual blessings that are in Christ Jesus. You are not entitled to it, but you can have it. It is written in Romans 5:8…

“But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath.”

You and I deserve death, but through Christ we can have life. The only way you can belong to Christ is to hear and believe the Gospel and respond by being baptized into water for the remission of sins. Then afterwards, it is up to us to remain faithful, avoid all the enticing desires and put away our entitled attitudes, and strive to give ourselves up entirely to God.

If you have any need this evening, any need at all, please come as we stand and sing.

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