I recently did something for someone that I didn’t have to do. It took a lot of time and money and effort on my part to do this for them. The hurtful thing was that they felt I owed it to them, when I did not. There was no word of thanks or even acknowledgement… because they felt I owed them and they were entitled to it. I totally disagree, but that’s not the point.
The point is, I realized today that I do this to God all the time. He is always doing things for me that He doesn’t have to, starting with salvation which was incredibly costly. Jesus set aside His power and position, suffered incredible pain and false accusations and betrayal all to give me a gift. Not because He owed it to me, but because He loved me. And He continues to fill my life with gifts and blessings…again…not because I’m entitled to them in any way—I haven’t earned them and don’t deserve them—but He gives them anyway, because He loves me.
This would be great if I was humbly grateful for them. But so often I’m not. So often I feel entitled to being blessed. I feel that He owes me—either because of what I’ve done, or because I look around and compare my life to others (and let’s face it, when we do that, we are pretty selective in who we compare our lives to—I can always come out with the short end of the stick and feel entitled to more when I play that game). Sometimes I feel like He owes me because I feel that He failed me in some way. (Well, OK, I am not sure I have felt this way before, but I’ve heard a lot of other people who have…and it’s likely that I have too, without realizing it.) You failed me, so you owe me—haven’t you heard that mentality towards God before? This is what had happened with me—why my friends felt that I owed them, because they felt that I had wronged them or failed them in some way. I know why they felt that, but it wasn’t true.
The thing is, if they’d just come to me and asked we could have hopefully worked it out, I could have explained. I would have done this thing for them anyway, but I would have been so much more delighted to do it if I could have done it from love and not from obligation. My attitude would have been so much more joyful and our relationship so much better if they had asked instead of demanded, sought to understand rather than accused.
How often does God feel that way about me? How often does He wish that, instead of accusing Him, I would ask Him? How often does He wish I would assume the best from Him instead of the worst? (After all, love hopes all things and looks for the best-1 Corinthians 13.) How often does He wish that I would ask for help instead of demand it? He still blesses me, but how much more might He delight to do so if I was appreciative rather than demanding, humble and grateful rather than entitled? And how much better would our relationship be?
I know how much I was hurt by their response to me—and suddenly I’m grieved by how much I have hurt the Lord by my responses to Him. Over and over again, I’ve done this very thing that was done to me. And over and over again God has chosen to forgive and operate in love towards me, rather than the woundedness in which I have operated towards my friends.
As I think about the absurdity of my entitlement towards God, Psalm 8 keeps coming to mind.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,[b]
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 8:3-5 (italics added)
Who am I, indeed, that You, Lord, would be mindful of me? And yet, you have blessed me. You have crowned with honor and made me in your image. Of all your magnificent creation, you have chosen to bless me. Thank you. Oh Lord, let me have a grateful, humble heart towards you. Let me be aware of and grateful for your many blessings. And please God let me give that same grace, forgiveness and love towards others that you give to me, not counting entitlement and demandingness against them anymore than you’ve counted it against me.