When freedom is combined with prosperity over a few generations, many people begin to develop an entitlement mentality. They believe that they “deserve” not just the basic freedoms of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but also a relatively comfortable lifestyle. They are aided and reinforced in this belief by the work of advertisers who love to exploit human conceit. How often have you seen advertising that tells you, explicitly or otherwise, that you “deserve” the enjoyment of whatever they are selling? This tactic is used to sell everything from luxury cars to fast food!
It is very easy to buy into an entitlement mentality. We feel as if we have reached a certain level of lifestyle because of our own endeavors, our upbringing, or for whatever other reason. Therefore, we can easily be seduced into feeling that it is right and proper to indulge in that lifestyle, whether we can afford it or not. If times get tougher, we easily prove willing to go into debt to maintain the lifestyle. Yet even if we never go into debt in order to support that lifestyle, was that lifestyle the most effective way we could have used our resources?
If we look to the Bible to see what it says about what we deserve, we quickly discover that its message is quite chilling. The Bible does not justify any belief that we deserve a certain standard of living. In fact, according to the Bible, we do not deserve anything good whatsoever! Since we have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), the Bible declares that we all deserve death and condemnation (Romans 6:23). Having rebelled against our Creator God, who is life and love and light, through our sinfulness (Romans 3:10-18, John 1:1, 4, 1 John 4:8), we probably deserve a miserable and wretched existence.
The only reason that we obtain anything good is on account of God’s love, mercy, and grace toward us. God allows the sun to shine on both the good and the evil, and He sends rain upon the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). He wants everyone to be redeemed from sin through His Son Jesus, not wanting them to perish, and patiently extends His kindness to them (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). He stands willing to provide to everyone who believes in His Son and obeys Him eternal life and glory beyond imagination (John 3:16, Romans 8:17-18).
We really have no right to have any sort of entitlement mentality. We deserve nothing that we have or ever could have. Everything, ultimately, comes to us as a gift from God (James 1:17). Without Him there would be no redemption, no creation, nothing at all that even could be “deserved”!
We should instead have a “thankfulness mentality”: thanking God for all of His gifts He gives to us despite our sinful condition (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Timothy 6:7). We must learn to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, understanding that if all we have is our relationship with God, we have all we need (1 Timothy 6:6, 8). If we have material blessings, let us use them in ways that honor and glorify God (1 Timothy 6:17-19). If we find ourselves deprived of those blessings, let us not forget or blame God in our affliction, but allow God to be glorified in our humility (James 1:9). We deserve nothing, yet God is willing to give us everything (Romans 8:32). Let us praise and thank Him!
Ethan R. Longhenry