Tag Archive | entitlement

Giving and Getting — Uh,…I mean Giving and Receiving

Image

For years I have made a serious effort to “walk my talk” in the area of giving and receiving.   Acts 20:35 is very familiar to us, where Paul quotes Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”   I also have taken very seriously the warning in Luke 12:48b:  “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”  These verses have governed the rationale for my behavior in so many areas for my entire life.  As a young teenager, I was acutely aware that God had blessed me, and that I had done nothing to deserve His favor or blessings.   I knew I had been given much, and that I had a proportionally great responsibility to be a good steward of what God had given me.  Although, like most people, I love receiving presents, I have always felt that I should try my very best to remain on the giving end of relationships.

As I examine this issue, I must concede that I don’t have as much difficulty receiving material gifts as I do receiving gifts of service — particularly if someone is offering to do something that I view as my personal responsibility.   Somehow, I have ended up regarding the legitimate process of receiving acts of kind service as “getting” something.   For me, “getting” smacks of entitlement or laziness, so it feels uncomfortable to me — or even unappealing.

However, God WANTS us to receive from one another; if that were not so, why would He emphasize the importance of GIVING?  By definition, in order for giving to take place, there must be a recipient.  If I insist on always being on the giving end of a situation, then I am in danger of controlling the relationship and hindering others from giving (which they also are commanded by God to do!).  Giving and getting are NOT opposites, as getting implies some procurative effort on our part.  On the other hand, giving and receiving are opposites and create a lovely relational balance when exercised in a reciprocal manner in a relationship (even though it IS more blessed to give than to receive!).

The attention-getter for me with this issue of receiving was proposed to me by one of my young adult children who asked me:  “Mom, if we always want to give and are reluctant to receive, how can we ever expect to understand and receive the fullness of what Jesus died to give us?”  THAT thought hit me like a brick.  Indeed, the Lover of my soul died to give ME forgiveness, salvation, eternal life, and a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.   He even said, “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).  I think I need to brush up on my receiving skills!  Father, enlarge my capacity to receive the fullness of Yourself and all You desire to give me!

What? No Free Paper This Morning?

My husband and I were faithful newspaper subscribers for years.  As time marched on, however, we became disgruntled with the paper, as it didn’t supply enough international news for our taste, nor enough articles of any type that truly interested us.  As a result, we switched to The Wall Street Journal, which we happily devoured for a couple of years.   When our subscription price increased dramatically and our schedules no longer permitted us to do justice to all the items of interest in that publication, we cancelled it and planned on a newspaper-free household for the foreseeable future.   After all, I never really was wild about cleaning all the newsprint off our white kitchen table, and I could not afford to spend time on the crosswords that tempted me.

Our newspaperless state lasted about two weeks.   We suddenly found ourselves the recipients of an unsolicited weekend edition of our local paper.  Assuming it was a publicity or advertising ploy to induce us to re-subscribe, we waited for our newspaper carrier to ring the doorbell with a proposition that we reinstate ourselves as his customers.   No carrier came to the door.   Over the course of the next few months, we regularly received, first the weekend papers, then the Thursday paper, and ultimately the Wednesday paper every week.  We had never agreed to subscribe to anything, and no bill ever arrived in the mail.   We reasoned that perhaps the carrier simply was required to distribute a certain minimum number of papers each day, and we had been chosen as the lucky extra recipients.

This pattern has continued for a couple of years — until this week.   Yesterday morning, I looked out and discovered no paper on the driveway.   “Never mind,” I thought.   “Perhaps they decided to skip Wednesday for some reason.”  However, again this morning, there was no paper.  My instinctive response was to wonder what happened to “my” paper, as our carrier has a number to call if your paper is not delivered.  However, it probably would not be appropriate to call and complain that the carrier had failed to deliver a paper I never paid for….!  Then the shock at my own thinking pattern struck me.  Suddenly I realized that I had developed a sense of entitlement to something that was delivered to me at no cost.   True enough, I had not  ORDERED the paper. However, I certainly had enjoyed clipping the coupons, scanning a few interesting articles, and attempting to complete the Sudokus.  I had become accustomed to reading the paper most days of the week and actually wondered why it wasn’t there this morning. 

The parallel between this situation and my attitude toward God was undeniable.   How often does God bless me with something pleasurable or surprising, something I did not request but certainly enjoy on a routine basis?   More often than I can count.  For one, it never occurred to me to ask Him for most of the benefits I enjoy; yet He daily invents little blessings that I could never have planned for myself at the moment they drop into my life (unexpected hugs from a child, kind words from a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, a bank of flowers beside the road, four jalapeño plants my non-capsicum-eating husband bought to plant in the garden).  More than that, how often does He bless with me something I never paid for and certainly do not deserve?   All the time.   He allowed me to be born to parents who love me; He gave me a husband I not only love, but actually LIKE; He forgives me of every sin; He knows my needs before I ask; He forgets all the mistakes I have made; He knows my desperately wicked heart and promises to change it, even though I haven’t ever and cannot do anything to deserve His mercy.  He’s the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, whether I remember to talk with Him or not.  Then, when something I have been praying about doesn’t go my way in the time frame I specify, I have the nerve to demand, “What?   No paper today?”!   THAT definitely gives me food for thought.  (See 1 John 2:12; Matthew 6:8; Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Timothy 2:13.)

Father, THANK You for all the blessings, both small and large, both the ones I’ve requested and the ones I never dreamed of asking You for.   Thank You for the things You’ve given me that I never realized I needed or wanted.   Forgive me for developing an entitlement mentality toward YOU, as You do not owe me ANYthing — yet You chose and continue choosing to keep on giving to me anyway.   Thank You that it is Your good pleasure to give me the Kingdom!  (See Luke 12:32)


At Your Convenience?

When we first got married and moved to Texas (MANY years ago!), I was shocked to discover that there were drive-through insurance companies and drive-through liquor stores, in addition to the usual drive-through doughnut shops and drive-through hamburger joints.  Clearly, that town in West Texas was on the cutting edge of the future wave of convenience marketing.   Most businesses now must consider customer convenience in their marketing and sales if they wish to survive.  As customers, we EXPECT every aspect of retail sales to cater to our convenience.  Sometimes I have even found myself complaining that some minute aspect of my purchase did not meet my specifications.  Somewhere in the course of the past thirty years, we have become a nation driven by an entitlement mentality that requires all aspects of life to proceed in accordance with our personal requirements and in compliance with our standards.

Unfortunately, this mentality has carried over to the Church.  All over America, we have become spiritual consumers who expect churches to meet our personal needs.  IF the pastor feeds us our favorite foods the way we like them best (fried, half-baked, or watered down, as the case may be), IF the worship team sings our favorite songs in the style we prefer, IF the kids’ ministry entertains our children sufficiently, and IF the lattes at the church coffee bar are up to our standard, we MIGHT grace that congregation with a membership commitment. 

Even God is not exempt from our convenient-for-me mentality.   If He does what He says in the Bible He will do and does it my way, in my timing, I will honor Him.   If He allows me to minister to Him my way, on my schedule, at my convenience, I will serve Him.  If not, I will sulk and withdraw from Him and punish Him by giving Him the silent treatment for a set period of time, until I feel like talking to Him again.

Yes, the Bible does say that God knows our needs before we ask.  It says that He has prepared good works for us to walk in, and that He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.  He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory.  He has given us every good and perfect gift.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.   It IS His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.

However, contrary to the voices rampant in our culture, the Kingdom is NOT about ME, and the Kingdom is NOT designed for my convenience.  Consider Jesus, who inconvenienced Himself profoundly to take on the form of humanity, to be touched by the feelings of our infirmities, to reduce Himself to living a life as one of us.  Consider the fact that, to do so, He had to leave His Father’s side and all the praise and glory of heaven to dwell among sinners in a world perverted by evil.  This calling was certainly not convenient or comfortable.   He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf for our redemption.   He was willing to be tempted, tested, mocked, and tormented in order to buy us back from the clutches of the devil.   His suffering is beyond what we can conceive or process; at the last moment, He asked the Father if there might be another way, but He was willing to drink the cup set before Him, if that was His Father’s will.  

God grossly inconvenienced Himself on our behalf, for our sake.   How dare I evaluate what I will and won’t do based on convenience!  I am embarrassed and ashamed to think of how many times I have shirked Kingdom opportunities because I didn’t feel like it, or because the timing was inconvenient.  Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world; He did not say everything would be convenient (John 16:33).  The good news is that He also says we will have peace, for He has overcome the world!   Praise God for deliverance from the lies of this world:  the lies of convenience, the lies of false comfort, the lies of entitlement, the lies of my own selfishness.   Nothing is beyond His ability to deliver!  Nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17)!   “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”  (2 Corinthians 2:14)  Father, let the fragrance of Jesus be released in me, and make me willing to be crushed for You, that Your Presence might be made known in my life!