“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. – James 4:1-3
Here is how I would define people who feel entitled: People who are entitled are generally contemptuous of others. They believe they are superior. They become offended when somebody objects to their behavior, and have a very difficult time apologizing when they make a mistake or act inappropriately. They may easily blame, criticize, shame, humiliate or judge others—or demand that others meet their needs or live up to their standards and they aren’t empathetic. They act as if they have the right to do or say whatever they want, and you have no right to object. That sounds a lot like Samson, doesn’t it?
I guess you can feel entitled when your birth was not just any ordinary birth, but a miracle. His mother was sterile and therefore unable to have children, but an angel appeared to her and later her husband, proclaiming that they would indeed have a son – and he was to be a Nazrite from birth. I guess when you tear apart a lion with your bare hands that tends to make you feel a little bit superior. And I’m sure you get a little puffed up when you dispatch your enemy in large numbers single handedly. It is fair to assume that Samson grew up knowing he was special, unique and had a divine calling.
But that entitlement, the idea that he deserved whatever he wanted, when he wanted it, resulted in him too often “clocking out” from using any self-control. It made him reckless and self-destructive. Like a moth to a flame, he continued to needlessly place himself at risk, losing sight of his purpose and breaking his vows as a Nazrite. Until finally, his lack of self-control finally caught up to him.
The story of the lion and the honey is just one example. Samson betrayed the same God that gave him the power to rip apart the lion for what? For a handful of honey. Who would betray God for a handful of honey? The answer is every man who is reading this devotional. We all have at one time or another probably betrayed our God who saved and blessed us for stupid, sinful things that only hurt us and those around us. And probably because we believe we deserved it.
Entitlement is that demanding attitude that says, “I deserve it now even if I haven’t earned it or cannot pay for it.” Some call it the gimmes, others the I-wants. Entitlement is subtle. It creeps into our lives when we compare our lifestyles and possessions to those of the people we respect and want to be like. Just like Samson, we too can feel entitled, that we deserve something. But before long we lose a little bit of self-control and something happens: a poor decision is made, and then something’s got you.
- How often do you feel you deserve it – that you have a right to more and better? How is it different than Samson’s?
- Entitlement causes us to judge God for how the world works, for the bad things that happen to us and for things that didn’t happen that we want. Agree or disagree?
- Entitlement causes us to blame others. Agree or disagree?
- How can we control attitudes of entitlement this week?