Monday, March 17, 2014

"My Entitled Self"

 


"My Entitled Self"
by Joe Dallas


The sin of Entitlement, which is the rejection of God’s authority, is one of the commonest problems among the men I work with. (And, to talk turkey, I’d have to say it’s one of my most besetting sins.)


It was also Lucifer’s original sin when he plotted to become like God, usurping His position. (Isaiah 14:12-15) It was Adam’s sin when he willingly disobeyed, (Genesis 3:6) That’s Entitlement – a mindset that’s exposed by our behavior when we act as though we answer to no one but ourselves.


For some men it becomes a lifelong religion they practice faithfully. Others, though, encounter something more substantial. They hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they respond. In doing so, they agree to a covenant that requires a whole new way of thinking:
 

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." (First Corinthians 6:19-20)


My wife and I own rental property, which means, of course, setting up contracts and terms with people who want to rent from us. Most of our tenants have been great, but every so often, someone gets confused as to who owns the property, and who rents it.


We try to be reasonable. If someone wants to paint the interior, OK. Plant some of their own flowers? No problem. But there are some definite "Thou Shalt Not’s." No knocking down walls; no painting the exterior; no sneaking in additional tenants who aren’t on the rental agreement. And if someone decides not to comply, I have to play the heavy.


At times like that, I remind the renter of the basics: He didn’t have to rent from me; I didn’t put a gun to his head and say "move in." He agreed to certain terms; if he didn’t want to comply with them, he shouldn’t have agreed to them. And if he really wants his own place, he should buy, not rent.


Now, your body is God’s temple, not yours. You live in it, certainly, and you’re given a good deal of leeway. I doubt God gets too heavy handed about what color tie you should wear, or whether or not you should put cream in your coffee. Many of the choices you make regarding your body are left to your discretion.


But some aren’t, and there are some definite "Thou Shalt Not’s." Sexual acting out violates your agreement, and if you decide not to comply, you’ll eventually hear from the Landlord.


He’ll knock on the door, invite Himself in, and remind you of the basics. You didn’t have to enter into the Salvation covenant with Him; He didn’t put a gun to your head and say "receive Me." You agreed to His terms. If you didn’t want to comply with them, you shouldn’t have agreed to them. And if you really want your own place – well, sorry. You gave up the title.


But maybe you forgot that. Maybe, while incorporating and protecting a sexual sin, you told yourself you were essentially obedient – well, obedient enough, anyway, in so many other areas. ("Look how much I tithe weekly, and at the volunteer work I do for the church!") This one area, you decided, didn’t really count. So every time you compromised, you strengthened the mindset that says Mine!


That’s because every act of entitlement – that is, every self-willed, self-justified rebellion (as in "I know this is wrong but I’ll do it anyway!") fuels the entitled mindset. It’s an ugly dynamic. When you transgress, you reinforce the Mine! way of thinking. That, in turn, makes it easier to transgress the next time you’re tempted. And each future transgression strengthens, yet again, the Mine! mentality, which makes future transgression easier — you get the picture.


So now that you’ve repented and are well into your recovery, you’ve got to deal with Mine! – that insidious, creepy, entitled thinking that tells you, when you’re tired or moody:


"Hey, I deserve a break. I’ve been good. No porn; no hookers. So if I kick back and enjoy a little masturbation fantasy, no big deal. I’m a guy, after all, and it’s the reward I deserve for staying sober for so long. I’m a Christian, sure, but a man’s gotta be entitled to something!"


Sounds like a small vice, hardly worth mentioning. Yet it’s those seemingly small compromises that bring a man crashing down. C. S. Lewis nailed this concept when he wrote:
 

"He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him." (C. S. Lewis, ‘Dying to Self’)


Entitlement, in mindset or action, brings it’s own reproach. Because when you’re not truly separated to Him, you’re unfit and unprepared for the battles you’ll face.


If we learned anything from the attacks of September 11, 2001, it’s that we haven’t a clue what challenges we’ll be called to rise to. Before that day’s horror, we never imagined an event like that on our own shores. But we woke up, I hope, to the fact we’ve got enemies more lethal than we figured, and our future safety and comfort could never again be taken for granted.


So are you naïve enough to think you’ll not face another "unthinkable" challenge? Maybe not a terrorist attack, but something more than what you thought you’d have to deal with – something you’ll need to be strong enough, inwardly and outwardly, to face.


Are you ready? If not, that’s why God’s puts His finger on Entitlement and says, "This, too, has to go."

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