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Entitlement and the Holiday

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…

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15 Responses to “Entitlement and the Holiday”

  1. teknogirl says:

    I am always touched by the anointing on your ministry, and coming to your blog for the first time is no exception. I feel the presence of the Lord here, and in your words. I am blessed by the work you do and have done – thank you for your faithfulness!

  2. BruceC says:

    Never considered Social Security an entitlement program like welfare as I have paid into it since I was sixteen, and at almost 58 I’m on SS Disability. My state pension is not an entitlement either. To me entitlement is something you never paid into but think you have a right to it. Spiritually there are many folks who think they are entitled to eternal life with God because they think of themselves are pretty good, decent people shirking off any concept of what Christ did and why. Some think they are entitled because they are Americans and live in a “Christian nation”, and yet some who think they will get it because their parents are Christians. Know it sounds wacky; but those are findings of some polls.
    None of us are entitled to anything that God has. All is given us by His grace and mercy. We don’t deserve it and we can’t earn it by “paying into” it. God owes us zero. At this time of year let us all reflect upon beibg thankful to God for His greatest gift; His Son Jesus Christ

  3. poohpity says:

    I guess on example of entitlement that was left out is the bail out. Just as those who receive the benefits mentioned are impaired in one sense so is corporate America. I really have to laugh because just as some receive benefits from help programs complain about the others getting help is the realization that we all need help.

    Entitled to nothing but receiving everything. God only looks at us through the blood of Christ because of His Holiness. I have to admit I was and am now not entitled to anything but have received everything.

  4. SFDBWV says:

    Poohpity, you are a blessing to me every post you make. rdcomp, I also have trouble with the connection. I will spend quite a while writing a response only to see it disapear into cyber space as the entire blog “goes away”. I have also tried unsuccessfuly to log onto the “Wonder of Creation blog”….Oh well I am “Thankful” I can get to participate here. Or is this an entitlement?

    Bruce C, I also don’t consider Social Security as an entitlement program. I as well as my son and wife all paid into the system. Now that we need it our, “savings” are there to help us out.

    Of course, everyone has already grasp the fact that we are entitled to nothing whereas God is concerned. As only the “Lamb” is worthy. Yet here we all are now entitled to all that God has for us because we belong to the “Lamb” We were given to him and not a single one will be taken away.

    Now I know that we cannot earn our salvation from working for it. But faith has to be worked at quite a bit. As it is said Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. Faith is also a gift from God. And is the only thing we can do to please him. Yet holding on to faith in a stormy life is not easy. A lot of effort has to be applied to it.

    I am thankful for this blog and all my new friends I have met here. I hope everyone has a great holiday tomorrow. It snowed 16 and a half inches of snow yesterday and it is a true winter scene outside. We have a lot here in my home to be thankful for.

  5. macsisson22 says:

    The problem with many entitlements is that the rules are skewed, at both the individual and system level. I mentioned before that my wife has MS and receives SSD and we are in a NYS Medicade buy-in and pay according to our ability. My wife, on one occasion, was actually counseled by one social worker to divorce me when I was away in the city to do some work. This, she was told, would increase her eligibility for other programs.

    On another side of obserdity, we had a friend that passed away a few years ago who also had MS. She had worked as a librarian for 7 years making a little more than minimum wage while her husband was an executive working for IBM and making over $120K/yr. My wife, on the other hand, worked as an aid to the elderly for approximately 1.5 years before she was diagnosed and unable to work. Our friend received full SSD for Herself and her 2 sons which amounted to almost $2100 a month in addition to her husbands six figure salary. My wife and daughter, on the other hand, received a total of approximately $235 a month. because she had not worked long enough even though my total income was less than $35K. We were told that my wife would have received full benefits had she never worked at all.

    Some at this point (like myself) might say. “That’s not fair!”

    I am glad God is not fair either or I would get what I deserve.

  6. rokdude5 says:

    For me I am not entitle to anything but death. I, too, may say to myself when things arent going right, “that’s not fair!” Yet did our sweet Lord Jesus say that when He was crucified?

    In my thinking, if God is Love then by that “definition” He HAD TO forgive us for had He not forgiven us, then how loving would that be? He only ask us to believe in Him, that He raised His Son from the dead, and to make our best efforts to obey His commandments. Just doing that, we get the best “entitlements” ever created! How cool is that?

    Thank You dear Lord for loving us as wretched as we are. I pray that You bless this organization and Mart and his family and all of our new friends. We owe a debt that we can never ever repay but only by saying that we love You and by following Your Words. Please comfort those who are in dire needs and more importantly, who are missing someone who was most dear to them at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone! RJ

  7. wretch-like-me says:

    I guess its no surprize that we seem to be comparing our earthly experiences with the spiritual realm. Truth is they don’t compare. I am reminded of Jesus’ parable about the master of the vineyard who hired workers thru out the day at different hours. The last workers came in at the last hour of the day; yet, when they were paid, all received the same wage. The parable was a real puzzler for all those who heard it and even today continues to confound those of us focused on ‘equal pay for equal work’ issues. I identify with many posts today. My wife is also on SS after brain surger failed to correct a problem with her 5th cranial nerve. She has Trigeminal Neuralgia. I have been partially disabled from military service collecting a meager amount from the VA but failing to qualify for Soc Sec. Further complicating our lives, I was falsely accused of misconduct with an 8th grade female student nearly 20 yrs past ending my teaching career despite being cleared in court. I have yet to find any fulltime job. I still struggle with depression issues over it.

    What is my point? God never allows us to be challenged (tempted) beyond what we are able to endure and with the challenge (temptation) gives a way of escape. 1Cor10:13
    None of us deserve anything. God blessed us with life and the purpose of life is to Worship Him regardless of circumstance. When I grasp that concept and surrender myself, a bond-slave to Christ(earmarked/pierced-ear) then it is that I am most content in all things. Christ suffered the cross FOR THE JOY set before Him.
    I bid you all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING and a deeper understanding of what the joy is all about. God Bless.
    –Celebrating with our daughter near Seattle, Washington

  8. Rev. Jeff says:

    I am very thankful for all the blessings I have received, especially this last year. We lost our home of 23+ years to a flood. Since then the Lord has most graciously provided for my family and I. We get messed up in the world’s economy and forget our real provider at times, but God really showed me who is my provider this year. Entitlements, well if you are looking at God’s economy, you see God as your King, your provider. If the state is where your provision comes, is the state your god?
    (just a question, not an accusation – it really depends on where your heart is at) You know God’s people did just that. Read in 1 Samuel 8, Isreal demanded a king. They rejected God as their King and God warned His people of what would happen if they made that choice, but they wanted it anyway. So now we are “self” governed. Just as the original fall of man, now man has fallen further away. Today, man is still guilty of pushing God out of their way. I am so glad, so thankful that God is so loving, so merciful, so gracious, so giving. He has not changed in His love for us and will give us everything. We have to believe God, trust God and ask. Ask God in Jesus name, believe we will receive and then receive it when He gives it. Thank you Jesus! Thank you Lord!

  9. daisymarygoldr says:

    If grace and mercy is considered solely as an entitlement, we can be disappointed, sad, hurt, or angered when life is overwhelmed with unsolved problems. I really do not have any idea about how it should “look”… Mart, why do you conclude with incomplete sentences that leaves me dizzily hanging in mid-air?

    Anyway, I am also thankful for the undeserving gift of God- Jesus Christ as an “entitlement”. To reciprocate His grace and mercy, I am obliged to remain “thankful” even in the midst of sickness, death, poverty, tragedy and all the pain of living in an imperfect world because this is what God expects me to do.

  10. pegramsdell says:

    Thank you RJ. Right on and well said. After all, we are nothing but glorified dirt (I once heard a pastor say).
    What are we really entitled to? Grace is a gift, and I am thankful for it. I open it and use it and appreciate it. Thank You Jesus!

  11. sitsathisfeet says:

    I too am so thankful to the Lord for everything I have that I have not earned, nor deserved. To my family, blood relations, family of God, including the faith friends here. For my salvation, for the Word of God, for the ability to worship without opression, persecution and death. The fact that I am sustained each day in a spiritual as well as a physical sense. I have enough to eat, warm clothing, a place to lay my head. I am thankful that God gave me life, and Loves me as his child. This past week the song Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the holy one for giving us his son Jesus Christ… and now let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us.. Give thanks. Kept coming to mind.

  12. violet D says:

    As a Canadian I thank God for all my ‘new’ U.S. friends I meet on this blog and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving Day – God bless you all.

  13. Mart De Haan says:

    I’ll check with our tech people next week and see what they say about the problem . I have trouble with the site occasionally too, and know it can be frustrating. Thanks for your patience and willingness to work around the issue.

    And to all, I continue to appreciate so much your transparency about your own stories– and the Christ-like care you show for one another.

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