images (5) Mark 8:34 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

en·ti·tle·ment: the fact of having a right to something.

There’s been a lot of talk these days about “entitlements” and “entitlement reform” in our country. Most would agree that the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” encompasses far more now than the founding fathers originally intended. Although some believe this reveals progress, others would argue the evolving “entitlement mentality” erodes both personal responsibility and individual initiative. It deceives us into thinking we’re being cheated out of something we deserve if we’re not provided with cell phones, contraceptives, and cable TV. When people make more money not working than working, something has gone seriously wrong. It’s killing our spirit. It’s also robbing our souls.

I think as believers it’s important to ask ourselves if we have slipped into an “entitlement mentality” in our spiritual lives. Have we come to view hardship as something we don’t deserve? When life gets tough, do we resent the interruption of our personal peace and affluence?  Do we believe if we just do everything right, we merit a ‘get-out-of-pain’ card? Have we forgotten that the world is, after all, fallen?

Martin Luther concluded in one of his final writings that “we are all beggars.” C.S. Lewis intoned that we are “jolly beggars.”  We are like the Syrophoenician woman who came to Jesus on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter. We plead for crumbs, not based on our rights, but on His goodness and mercy (Mark 7:25-30). The deeper our awareness of how much we’re not entitled to, the fewer our demands, and the greater our contentment no matter what our circumstances.

Jesus left behind all his “entitlements” precisely so we would not get what we deserve. His sacrifice opened the door to all the riches of heaven for us self-seeking sinners. But entering requires from us the antithesis of entitlement thinking:  “if we don’t bear the cross then we can’t wear the crown.”

A cross Jesus said we were to pick up every day.

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