The Entitlement Epidemic

9:26 AMHeather

There is a growing epidemic sweeping our nation.  It's even reared it's ugly little head in my own home...and I must sadly admit, in my own heart.  Entitlement.  This idea of "I deserve it" and demanding our own "rights."  The idea that we are due and others owe it to us.  It's evident when traffic is merging on a congested highway.  Or when some lady jumps in front of me in a long check-out line to just ask a quick question (theoretically of course).  How about those ugly Black Friday incidents with the pepper spray and such?  ENTITLEMENT.  Somehow we have gone from a culture of working together and serving other people and just plain common courtesy to a nation of "gimmes" and "you owe me!"

I'm telling you--this journey of exploring God's grace has already taken me places I never expected.  And I'm only 2 weeks in.  Can't even fathom what the other 50 weeks this year will hold?  But, I am pretty stoked about it.  And, of all the subtle surprises I've already encountered, the connection between God's favor (a prerequisite to His grace) and entitlement has intrigued me.

Today, we move from the story of Noah in Genesis 6 to the next appearance of the word favor in my NIV Bible--Genesis 18.  This is the story of how the 3 visitors came to Abraham and the Lord announced His promise to give Abraham and Sarah their son Issac, as well as His plans to destroy Sodom.  I honestly had to read this passage a few times before I connected all the dots. 

So, the first thing we see is verse 1, how the Lord appeared to Abraham.  Alrighty.  Check--time with God.  Then, the 3 strangers appear.  Now, we are told that these were men--not angels.  I might assume that Abraham knew a connection between these 3 men appearing just after God appeared.  I sorta guess that Abraham might have known the 3 strangers were sent by God?  But maybe not.  It's not really clear...which tells me that it's not important if that connection was obvious.  In other words, when we encounter others in our lives, we should err on the side of Abraham and consider it a divine appointment--obvious or not.

And BOOM, verse 3 gives us the great cure to the entitlement epidemic.  Abraham approaches the 3 men by rushing to them, bowing, and then basically saying, "IF I have found favor in your eyes, please stop and stay awhile.  Allow me to wash your feet and feed you and serve you here that you might be refreshed."  Say what?  Can you imagine someone coming to you and saying, "If I have found favor in your eyes, let me clean up your dirty stinky messy feet (wearing sandals in the desert after all) and then give you food and a place to rest."  WHO does that?  WHO has such an attitude that they humbly consider it a FAVOR to serve others?  Abraham had no idea that after he served these strangers, God had a pretty exciting promise to give him about children to come.

And, lest we think that Abraham and Sarah were half-hearted or begrudgingly hosted these surprise guests, you should read the rest of the chapter.  We see that Abraham hurried to ask Sarah to use the FINEST flour to make some bread, then ran to the servant to have a choice, tender and fine calf prepared.  Oh no--no half-way efforts here, or even "let me finish this other thing first before I help you."  This was the 5 star V.I.P. treatment given to these guests...whom apparently granted Abraham the favor of suddenly entertaining them.

Now, I've met some really hospital people in my life, but this is pretty amazing.  Once I read this chapter a third and even fourth time, here were my thoughts.  First things first--the Lord appeared to Abraham.  So, it was sorta a Biblical era quiet time.  Abraham spent time with the Lord.  Then, this humble servant's attitude and gracious hospitality followed.  Time with the Lord.  First and paramount.

Glimpse of grace:  Time with the Lord had some major "side effects" on Abraham.  What about me?  Am I so changed by my time with the Lord that I see even interruptions as divine appointments?  Am I so changed by my time with the Lord that I am eager and excited to serve others?  In fact, do I consider it a privilege to serve others?  Do I see others who appear along my path as being sent by God?  Is this my attitude--if I have found favor with you (as in an inferior humbly seeking favor from a superior), then can I serve you?  When was the last time I said, "Hey, please do me a favor, children.  Let me serve you by cleaning up after you, cooking for you, doing your laundry, and caring for your every need?  If I have found favor with you, please let me do that."  Um, NO.  You see, entitlement creeps in and I think it's not fair that I have to pour myself out to these darlings who require so much from me.  

Here's the cure to the entitlement epidemic.  May we be so very changed by quality time with the Lord that we realize that seeking favor with others--serving others--is an extension of seeking favor with God.  May time with the Lord--being called His child, having access to Him, bring about a pretty stellar attitude of humility.  Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  May we find favor as we seek to do the same.

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