I am not made for the heatwave that has ravaged my area over the last week. I don’t know why anyone would choose to live in the desert, if this is anything what it’s like. The dogs and I have largely camped out in the basement, steering clear of windows and being outside as much as possible. They’re extremely bored, and look at me as though it’s my fault that it’s too hot for them to run around and play in the yard. But it’s not like I’ve blocked the doggy door or something. They’re keeping themselves inside.
Truly, the temperatures are oppressive and depressing. Thank the Lord for central air.
Kate says: deserve.
It is not right to be partial to the guilty, or to subvert the innocent in judgement.
– Proverbs 18:5
I’ve been thinking a lot about entitlement lately, and by that I don’t mean Medicaid or Social Security. I mean the attitude. That sense of being owed something, just by virtue of existing. Of wanting access and privileges without doing the work of earning either. It’s something we all struggle with from time to time. I know have.
When we indulge in this attitude and seize things that are not ours to hold, we become guilty. Guilty of covetousness, of laziness, of devaluing others, of seeking the easy way over work and accountability. We place ourselves at the center of it all, an often undetectable-to-outsiders form of self-idolatry. We think that we deserve what we want, when we want it, how we want it.
And often, when we play these games, we do get ahead. We do get what we want. Because when we turn on the charm and engage in stealth maneuvers, we can move up the ladder, whatever that particular ladder is for each of us. Entitlement almost always goes hand-in-hand with charm and flattery. And when we’re flattering others, we’re manipulating them into being partial to us.
Partial to us in and as we sin.
And the innocent are hurt.
By our self-indulgence, complacency, and arrogance.
My theological tradition has a lot to say about holy living. It’s easy to think that to be holy equals properly keeping a long list of rules. But that’s not it. Holy living is about love – God’s love. The radical, transformative, earth-shattering love that reorders our priorities and reorients our souls. Within that love is no space for entitlement, for that love reveals to us exactly who God is, exactly who we are, and exactly how relational the design of all of this is. We don’t get to grab things that aren’t ours to take and jostle for top position. Instead we are privileged to make way, to give room to, the weak, the lowly, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
God, forgive us for thinking that we deserve something. That we’re owed something. That we can hoard anything. We are called to be people of open hands and complete commitment. Open hands – to give to all. Complete commitment – to do the work before us, whatever that work may be. Lord, teach us again to place You at the center of our lives.