…sneaks up on us. “I am entitled to some free time because I worked so hard.” “I am entitled to more respect, because I am holding this marriage together.” The disciples thought they were entitled to time with Jesus, so they excused their rudeness to a needy woman. They also wanted to send a crowd away because they were hungry and entitled to food.
People living by entitlement make God their employer. “Give me my paycheck; I’ve earned it.” Think elder brother. He deserved a party, because he had worked for his dad and never disobeyed him. Whoops. He had just refused to come inside. Entitled folks are blind to their irresponsibility while claiming their rights.
Entitlement gives you a boss instead of a father. The elder son never used the word “father” when talking to his dad as the younger brother did. He clocked in every morning, then expected to be paid. You get what you deserve. He had the right to a party, not with the boss man but with friends. He didn’t even want to be with “the boss.”
Meanwhile, the young son knew that he didn’t deserve anything, but he got it all—a party, new clothes, new shoes, a ring. Far from deserving it, he planned his confession: “Treat me as one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:19). That is where his brother ended up by entitlement. When you think you are entitled, you lower your status from son to servant and God’s from Father to Boss. The relationship morphs from personal to professional, from relational to functional.
We may wonder why we don’t feel close to God. Perhaps we feel entitled to a blessing because we are serving Him. Maybe we shouldn’t get sick like others or miss our plane. Servants of the King should be treated better. Thoughts creep in that rob us of grace and reduce us to slaves with a hard-driving master who expects us to work hard, then doesn’t even give us what we deserve, like a party. Check out the servant who called a happy, generous master “a hard man” (Matt. 25:24). He deserved a break, though he had buried what was given him to invest. Entitlement often makes people lazy, passive victims (see John 5:7), though they expect others to come through for them.
Grace doesn’t make sense. There’s no free lunch. Why would love be poured out on a brother who shamed the family? It made big brother mad. But the father, who never stopped loving either son, preferred grace to condemnation. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” in the father’s house.
A Pharisee, proud of his record, came to the temple to boast. He had earned points by fasting and tithing. By contrast, the tax collector “beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” (Luke 18:13). He received what he asked for. Jesus told the parable “to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else. Entitlement doesn’t endear us to the Father, nor to our brothers and sisters. And it wreaks havoc on relationships. While an outlook of grace levels the playing field and puts us all in the same position of needy brothers and sisters, entitlement puts some in a higher place, like the Pharisee and elder brother placed themselves. Not a good thing to do. Choose grace instead and live above entitlement!