• Richard Parrish

July Reflection by Richard Parrish - The Problem with Self-Entitlement

Updated: Jul 21



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“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.⁠[1]”
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.⁠[2]”

REFLECT


“There’s nothing more to say.”


Mom’s words indicated the conversation was over. It’s not that she was unwilling to listen. She was. But when my repeated pleas revealed my desire to ignore my responsibility, the dialogue stopped.


She recognized—no matter how creative my “self-entitled appeals” were (and believe me, I could be very innovative), they must never be allowed, as that would encourage behavior that rejects responsibility.


Mom understood that life isn’t always easy. “Son, if you do not learn to appreciate personal responsibility, it will be difficult for you to manage life.”


Those words still ring loud in my ears and heart.


Self-entitlement is when individuals view themselves as deserving unearned privileges.


People expecting unmerited rights believe life owes them something: a reward, a measure of success, or a particular standard of living.


We are immersed in messages encouraging “self-entitled behavior.” From billboards to social media, print, and television commercials, advertisers convince us: “You’ve earned it, you deserve it, you owe it to yourself.”


A steady stream of convincing words, reinforced with attractive images over time— helps solidify the lie.


Have we been hoodwinked? Are we entitled to a shortcut? Do we honestly think that receiving a trophy, promotion, new car, or home will bring lasting contentment?


Have we forgotten where real hope, pure delight, joy, and peace reside?


Paul’s words are not a campaign slogan, but words forged in adversity. He knows suffering, misery, and heartache. He’s familiar with injustice, prison cells, floggings, sickness, and shipwreck.


His words are to his friends (and to us) who find ourselves in difficult times. Not once do we sense even an ounce of self-pity or entitlement in his bones. He’s a slave of Jesus Christ.


Everything he has—abundance and adversity—are gifts that point him to his source of hope, joy, and peace.


Paul does not hope in the Roman powers to deliver him. He refuses to cling to a false belief that views life as unfair. He rejects the notion that he’s entitled and chooses to redirect his desires to the source of his hope, joy, comfort, and peace.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ[⁠3].”

Difficult times are not comfortable for any of us. The problem with self-entitlement is that it distracts us from our source of hope, contentment, joy, and peace.


Like Paul’s world, it’s easy for us to desire others to provide solutions and look for temporary things to offer satisfaction.


Racial injustice, educational reform, health insurance, abortion, liberal and conservative agendas—not to mention COVID, are just a few topics that bombard us.


I’m tired of circular conversations. Perhaps, as my mother recognized, we need to remember that “self-entitled rhetoric” only encourages behavior that rejects responsibility.


To those whose hope is in the LORD, tribulation can produce treasure. Paul puts it this way:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;⁠[4]

Perhaps a better conversation needs to process questions like:

Why do we insist on looking to others to remedy our discomfort?


Why are we so impatient, demanding action yesterday!


Why is instant gratification in such high demand?


Why do we resist adversity and ignore the inward transformation of our hearts that God

desires?


Why do we insist on talking with everyone, but God?


Whatever your adversity may be, my prayer for you is:

“Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation. Be constant in prayer.”

RESPOND


Am I looking for treasure in my trials? If not, why?


What am I noticing?


What rights do I insist on holding? Am I struggling to let them go? Why?


Where am I noticing my impatience?


Am I willing to let go of my demands and be open to receive what God gives (and does not provide) me today?

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 12:12.

[2]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Co 4:7–10.

[3]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 3:8.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Co 4:7–9.