Started thinking that entitlement and thanksgiving are mutually exclusive, and that what’s at risk, if I don’t see the difference, is not only a heartless holiday, but also a shrinking spirituality.
Then the most basic Google search gives me definitions that complicate my thoughts. For openers, I find,
“The state of meeting the applicable requirements for receipt of benefits”
“An entitlement program is one in which the federal government is legally obligated to make payments or provide aid to any person who meets the legal criteria for eligibility. Examples include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps.”
Next I stumble across the statement:
“For every person who feels entitled there are untold others who expect to earn their way…”
So if entitlement in the best sense amounts to “justice,” and if in the worst sense it suggests arrogant, unreasonable, “you-owe-me” so “take-care-of-me,” expectation, how does this get us ready for a “Thanksgiving holiday?” Or more importantly, how does such an attitude compare or contrast with the values of Jesus?
Does being “holiday thankful” imply that (a) we have gotten what we don’t deserve; that (b) we are grateful to have gotten what we worked hard for; or that (c) we thank God what we have without trying to sort out whether it was something we deserve, earned, or were given?
Still for openers, and without even getting into the “national implications” of Thanksgiving Day 2008, am thinking that what I’m so thankful for is the assurance of the Bible that through belief in Jesus, we get “legal entitlement” to the grace and mercy of God– but only on the basis of realizing that we could never have earned it…
In Paul’s NT letter to the Romans he wrote, “When people work, their wages are not a gift. Workers earn what they receive. But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work. King David spoke of this, describing the happiness of an undeserving sinner who is declared to be righteous: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord.” (Romans 4:4-8 NLT).
As I focus on this inexpressible, everlasting gift of relationship, I think I begin to see more clearly that, in the wisdom of God, what I’m not entitled to is my idea of how this should all “look”, for now…