Does everyone have a sense of entitlement?

Several discussions I had recently, are leading me to believe that we all have some sense of entitlement, whether we have a lot or not

This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the four Gospels* is from Luke. In Luke 22:35-38, the apostles were looking at their possessions and then looking back to Jesus, wondering if they had all they needed?

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals,did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.

Chapter 22 of Luke details The Last Supper. It was a poignant time of ministry from Jesus as he washed dirty apostle feet (John 13). He ministered, taught, conversed and they ate together as brothers. I’m sure they shared laughs, and they said dumb things too, like most of us do during social interactions (Luke 22:24). Jesus gave them their first communion and prophesied.  He prepared and warned them by telling them things to come. Since many of them left occupations that put food on their tables, Jesus asked them if they lacked anything during the first time they were separated from him, when the apostles were sent out on their first missionary journey (Luke 9). They answered “Nothing!” This should cause us to pause, to reflect on this scene described in scripture.

Did they lack anything?

Jesus told them he was getting ready to go away from them, and in their hearts they wondered about their own physical needs, didn’t they?  Why else would Jesus have asked them if they: “lacked anything”? he knew what they were thinking. Jesus often did this; he answered questions people around him had on their minds, like he knew. He knows what’s on our mind, doesn’t he?

Examples of entitlement?

The term entitlement has become more popular and is used to describe what was once called welfare benefits. On a national basis, they comprise 70% of our Federal budget for things like Social Security Disability, retirement, unemployment, Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing and Title 20 daycare. Some people are judged for their entitlement dependence.

What got me thinking about this was something that happened several months ago. During a small group discussion following watching a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class video. The members were describing various ways they’ve saved money on groceries. Several commented that they shop at Aldis. For those of you that don’t know, Aldi’s is not an upscale market. It’s a great place to save money on groceries, but it’s not as nice place to shop as regular mainline chains are. The people shopping there don’t look wealthy at all. However, one lady in the circle said, she’s been to college and has a good job, and shouldn’t have to shop a Aldi’s anymore.

The other day I was having a conversation with a young person with a modest income at church. He said that he only drinks beer that’s made in craft breweries. Those golden drops cost 8 – 16 dollars for a six-pack. He said he can’t even think about drinking down market brews like Budweiser. He said young people today have refined tastes for nicer things. This makes me proud of my relative who is happy with Pabst Blue Ribbon.

A few days after that, I was talking to an older man about some of these discussions, about how I was starting to believe that we’ve all developed some general sense of entitlement. He agreed that we all have some sense of entitlement, admitting that for things like housing, clothes, vehicles, and food, his standards are much higher now, compared to when he was younger and made less money. He said he felt entitled to certain things in his higher station of life. Yet, he confessed since he has worked hard he feels he is entitled to more. He’s re-thinking his point of view, since his belief that he is a temporary manager of God’s money and possessions, shouldn’t necessarily compute to more stuff for himself.

It’s a proven fact for most people, as we move along in our careers and make more money, our standard of living rises to the next level along with our incomes. People tell me that they feel they’re entitled to live a certain way because they’ve worked hard, come from a certain family, or graduated from college. In the world’s economy, this is totally acceptable, but to Jesus, is it?

The more we make, the higher our lifestyle floats up and we spend more money. I’ve always joked that we should be careful not to buy expensive wine, because your tongue will get used to better quality, and the $3.99 bottom shelf variety will leave you feeling discontented. Another common example is our automobiles. If you get used to driving nice cars with a smooth ride with rapid acceleration (for us car-guys) going down-market is almost painfully impossible.

There is a downside to upscale living. The more we spend, the less we save and invest, so we are much more susceptible to financial difficulty if we lose our job or face some other financial difficulty. Even worse, the more the average person spends on themselves, the less we have to be generous in tithing and giving to other charitable organizations.

Do you have enough?

The disciples showed Jesus their belongings, and he said with force; “That’s Enough!” (Luke 22:24). It is a very good question to ask Jesus. In your mind or on a piece of paper list the things you own, and what you spend for fun and leisure; then ask him if that is that enough?  Jesus should I live this lifestyle, or step up a level? Do you want me to scale down?

What God said to Baruch

What God provides is sufficient, he knows our needs and he knows our challenges. God has lately been reminding me of Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary. It appears God warned Baruch “But as for you, you keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking.” We don’t know what they were, perhaps prominence, selfish ambitions, or material prosperity, but Baruch was “worn out with groaning and {could} find no rest.” Jeremiah 45:2-5.

*This Monday blog post is a chronological walk through of the four gospels, examining any verse that involves money and stewardship.  This is the sixty-third post in this series.

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