Entitlement for Fun and Profit

I know what I want
I know what I need
I want a miracle
I know what I need
I know what I want, I know what I need, give me
(A new car!)

I’m one of the king’s kids (He wants a blessing)
I’m one of the king’s kids (He wants a blessing)
I do deserve the best (Keep on confessing)
The very, very, very, very Best
I’m one of the king’s kids
I deserve the best, I want
(A new car!)
– Terry Taylor, “New Car!”

In my line of work (which I shall only make vagues references to) I have, for 20 years, had to deal with those under the spell of the Entitlement Myth. If something goes wrong, these people immediately start looking for someone, not only to blame, but to give them what they feel they are “entitled” to. In fact, blame is not usually as important as the “deep pocket,” whoever that might be. “Somebody owes me something,” is the general premise.

The Christian side of entitlement thinking is not much different than the secular side, except for the focus: ultimately, it is God’s responsibility. However, most entitlement-oriented Christians will never say that, because it sounds sinful and selfish, and because religious people can’t get mad at God for anything. Instead, usually the target is shifted from God to the church. The church, after all, is made up of sinful people, so as sinners, they’re more easy to blame.

I’ve seen it over and over – those with terrible work habits, various lifestyle issues, horrendous money-management skills and just generally unwise will look to those around them who are industrious (and therefore more “blessed”) for handouts. Some unskilled individuals actually want to learn “to fish.” However, the entitlement crowd would rather have you give them the fish. Since you already know how to fish enough to share, why should they learn, too?

The sin of the Entitlement Myth is named in the 10 Commandments: “Thou shalt not covet …” Obviously this is nothing new. Whether they spiritualize the issue or not, the issue is still the belief that they deserve what someone else has. This is a totally different issue than the command to “give to anyone who asks of you,” although these folks don’t see it that way. Paul clarified the issue somewhat when he said plainly, “he who won’t work shouldn’t eat.” Feeding widows and orphans is one thing; feeding lazy slobs is another thing altogether.

There are those who have legitimate needs, due to work layoffs, illness, disaster, etc. Then there are those who are simply stupid, who overspend, under-work and in general live a lot like the Prodigal Son. However, notice that in the story, the Prodigal didn’t expect his father to give him anything- he had repented enough to have learned the value of work. Often, I think we enable prodigals to continue in their sin by letting our misplaced sympathies and guilts move us to bail them out, before they have had opportunity to repent. In effect, by not listening carefully to God, we can thwart God’s plans by being generous when generosity is not called for.

We tend to try to balance out issues in our minds, by thinking that the command to feed the poor somehow relates to an entitlement by the poor to what the rich have. However, I think this is a grave error in reasoning; the call of God on the rich to be generous is simply that. The poor are not told to look to the wealthy, or to the establishment (the church or the government) – they are to ask God directly. How God works that out is His business.

Now (to go back to the song quoted above), the concept of being entitled to a blessing seems to me to be a contradiction. If you’re entitled to something, it’s not a blessing. However, there are those who believe that they are entitled to be blessed, which is a fair segue into the next post …

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