As we think about purifying ourselves “from everything that contaminates body and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1) over Lent, one of the most poisonous toxins we need to be aware of is entitlement. Of course, there are times when a sense of entitlement is right and good—in our relationships, as citizens, and under the law, we all have a right to expect to be treated certain ways. The problem comes when we think that we deserve certain things from life itself—or from God. This kind of entitlement is based on a lie, is a bottomless pit, and it interferes with our ability to receive life as a gift, and truly enjoy all that God has for us.
Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
When it comes to entitlement, one of the biggest sources of “you deserve…” messaging in our lives is advertising. Marketers attempt to harness a sense of entitlement in order to get us to buy their product. Can you think of a time when this has worked (or almost worked) in your life? What kinds of ads trigger the biggest struggles with discontentment for you?
“Life (or God) owes me nothing.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
Looking at Scripture:
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.
What does this passage have to teach us about our relationship to wealth/money/possessions?
What are Paul’s “minimum requirements” for contentment? Do you think he expects others to follow his lead and adopt the same standard? If so, is it fair?
What are Paul’s requirements for those who are rich? How can we (as Canadians who are richer than most people who have ever lived) carry out his commands in practical ways?
What do you think is the relationship between greed (or love of money) and entitlement?
Ecclesiastes is a book of ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, filled with practical observations about life (but not necessarily a lot of what we would normally think of as theology). The author (King Solomon) has it all—wealth, pleasure, wisdom, relationships—but struggles with a sense of meaninglessness in his own life and in humanity in general. Read some of his observations about wealth and contentment in Ecclesiastes 5:10-20.
What strikes you most about this passage? Did anything stand out?
In your own words, what does Solomon say is a good way to approach life (in 18-20)? What implications does this passage have for addressing a sense of entitlement?
Paul was well-trained in the Scriptures, including this book of Ecclesiastes. Do you see any similarities between what Solomon writes here and what Paul wrote centuries later (in the previous passage from 1 Timothy)?
Think through the various good things in your life—your home, relationships, job, pets, transportation, experiences, education, etc. Which are you most grateful for? Which do you take for granted? Which are you most likely to complain about, feel discontent with?
Grateful Take for Granted Discontent
For the areas you take for granted or feel discontent with, see if you can identify a sense of entitlement, that you somehow “deserve” them. Why do you think this?
Expressing thanks regularly to God for those things can help you to enjoy life to a greater degree. Make a plan for how you will work in habits of thankfulness each day. When entitlement starts to creep in, remember the truth:
Life is a gift. God owes me nothing. What I have is enough.