Entitlement

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The other day, my friend and I were comparing notes on grandparenting. We agreed that being grandmothers can be a journey through uncharted waters. My friend’s adolescent grandson was driving her a little crazy with his attitude that day. Any time she would refuse him what we wanted, he would respond in anger. “The entitlement!” she wrote me. She then assured me: “We don’t respond well to entitlement.”

That got me thinking. Is a child’s entitlement a result of bad parenting or grandparenting? Are we causing this obnoxious trait in our children by giving them too much? Or is there something deeper happening?

To answer that question, we have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were approached by the serpent, encouraging entitlement was in his plan. Both humans knew that God had made it clear that they could eat from any tree in the garden but one: “For in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NASB).

Notice Satan’s tactics: he first cast doubt on the truth of God’s words. “You will not surely die!” he assured them. Then he went after the goodness of God. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” he said. (Genesis 3:5 NASB) He’s keeping you back because He wants to remain superior to you. His motives are vain and selfish. He’s not for you. He’s for Himself.

Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise…” and took the bait. So did Adam. And the sinful nature of future humankind was determined.

Why did Eve do it? Every other tree had been generously provided. Why did she have to have the one thing that was denied her? I think it goes back to Satan’s challenge; his suggestion that God was not truthful or truly good. She should have more. She deserved more.

Entitlement.

Of course, they didn’t consider the other side of the coin before taking that plunge: that maybe God was protecting them from something, like a life of toil and pain. That their denial of the goodness of God would taint everything, from the physical world to their relationships with God and with each other. That in His prohibition, He truly was being good.

Entitlement is a dangerous thing. One of the ten commandments is “you shall not covet.” I’ve heard people say that the last five commandments (Exodus 20:12-17) are horizontal, governing human to human interaction. They do, but this one is more than that. To covet is to want what you do not have. Who provides what we have? God. Feeling entitled is a statement to God: I deserve more. You have refused me what I need. You are lacking in your goodness.

The opposite of entitlement is contentment. Contentment does not depend on circumstances, material possessions, or successes in life. Contentment is a by-product of something bigger: trust in the God who provides every good thing. Trust in a God who is absolutely good.

Paul wrote, “Not that I speak from want, but I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am…” What was Paul’s secret to living in contentment?  “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB).  If there was a list of what Paul felt would fit that bill, God would have been right at the top.

When entitlement poisons our heart and mind, we already have the antidote. We need to dwell on God’s goodness. Had Adam and Eve taken a minute to think about how good God had already been to them, how every good thing had come from His abundant generosity and grace, I’m pretty sure they would have doubted that conniving snake. What Satan was saying was in direct conflict with anything they already knew about God. It would have been a no-brainer to walk away.

Let’s make sure our children and grandchildren understand that everything they have has come from God, including parents who say no for a reason. Let’s help them to understand there are bigger, more important things in life than getting to play video games all day or freedom to roam at will. Encourage them about His goodness, which He limits only to grow us in our trust in Him.

Because God is good…all the time.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment, for we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  1 Timothy 6:6-7 NASB

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About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Do you ever struggle with entitlement?

 

 

 

The Grinch That Stole Spring

by Sheri Schofield

“Where did all those dandelions go?” I asked myself, as I walked through the mountain meadow near my home. There had been at least six cheerful flowers blooming on the bank the day before, some of the first flowers of spring after the long, barren winter months. I had been looking forward to seeing them! To me, they represented joy and new life.

Later that day as I was driving into town, I saw an animal head pop up from a culvert not far from the missing dandelions. It saw me and quickly ducked back into the tunnel. I stopped and waited to see what it was. The head looked kind of like a prairie dog, but it was much bigger. I thought, “If the prairie dogs are getting that big these days, I’m moving into town!”

Soon the animal’s head popped up again. I sat very still, my camera phone ready. Slowly, the creature moved a little higher, and finally climbed up on the bank where I could see it. I snapped a few pictures then drove down the mountain to a wide spot in the road to try and figure out what the animal was.

It was a yellow-bellied marmot. It turns out that marmots just love to eat dandelions! He’s been nibbling away at the cheerfulness of our mountain’s colors. I’ve named him Grinch.

Our current world health crisis is doing the same thing as that marmot: stealing the new life and joy of springtime. So what can we do to combat this Grinch?

Habakkuk faced a Grinch, too. He had been complaining to God about all the evil in Israel and asking God to do something about it. God told him that Babylon was going to invade Israel. God was allowing this in order to turn his people back to himself. God had had enough of Israel’s disobedience. Habakkuk describes what would happen:

God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble . . . (Habakkuk 3:3-6 NIV).

We are living in a time when God is, figuratively, shaking the earth, trying to get its attention and draw earth’s people back to himself. It is scary, even for believers! But Habakkuk’s response gives us great insight about how to overcome this time of trouble, this Grinch – this plague – that God is using to get earth’s attention. Habakkuk said:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV).

Do not be afraid of what God is doing! For he is calling earth’s people to himself. In the face of this great trial, rejoice in the goodness of God – goodness that will get people’s attention before it is too late, and will draw all who listen back to his loving heart.

Lord, let there be revival!

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God .  Psalm 42:1-2 NIV

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sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How has God gotten your attention in these troubled times?

Is God Ever Not Good?

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

A friend recently had successful cancer surgery. When she joyfully announced the results on social media, the responses were both positive and predictable:

  • God is good!
  • God truly answers prayer!
  • God really loves you!
  • God is an awesome God!

We rejoiced in her prognosis because we understood the magnitude of what might have been. Still, our collective responses started me wondering. What if God had not extended His hand of mercy to her? What if the surgery had not been successful? What if the cancer had spread? Would we still say:

  • God is good!
  • God truly answers prayer!
  • God really loves you!
  • God is an awesome God!

…or would we doubt His goodness?

The prophet Habakkuk wrote: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).

Today, we might say: “Though the cancer is not healed and I can’t pay my mortgage, though my marriage has failed and the economy produces no jobs, though there are no book contracts in the offing and no agents who want to represent me,         yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

No matter what happens, God is good.

Whether we understand our circumstances or not, God is good.

Whether we can serve Him the way we want or not, God is good.

Whether our days are difficult or easy, God is good.

Do you believe this—truly believe this in the midst of your present circumstances? Believe it in your heart and speak it aloud, because it’s true: God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

I hope you’re not experiencing anything today causing you to doubt God’s goodness. But if you are, what will you do with your doubts?

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!                                                                                                                                          Psalm 34:8 NASB

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© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What has made you question the goodness of God?

His Whispers of Protection

by Cindi McMenamin

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11, NASB).

In my Bible, Psalm 84:11 is highlighted. I claimed this promise nearly 30 years ago as I prayed to the Lord, asking Him for Hugh to become my husband. Hugh was the godly man who had stolen my heart.

“Lord, Hugh is a ‘good thing’ for me,” I prayed. “And I have been walking uprightly. Certainly, You will not withhold him from me.” And God didn’t. A year after praying that promise, Hugh and I were married, and I can confirm, with joy, that over the past 30 years, Hugh has been a “good thing” in my life.

When it came to wanting a second child, I prayed that promise again. “Lord, a baby is a ‘good thing’ and we are walking uprightly, so, according to Your Word, You certainly will not withhold.” And yet He did. Hugh and I were never able to have a second child. And in the years since, God has graciously shown us that having only one child was, and still is, His idea of “good” for our lives.

There are other “good things” I have prayed for through the years that God has chosen to withhold – opportunities to relocate, a certain measure of success in our ministries, desired “golden opportunities.” And although it’s difficult to understand why God would say “no” to some of those requests, I have learned to trust that, in His wisdom and love, God knows what He is protecting us from when He withholds something that may look truly good to us.

At times, we realized that God had withheld because He was waiting to give us something far better than we had thought to ask for. Other times He was protecting us from something we couldn’t yet see. So, I’ve learned through the years not to question God’s withholding in my life. And I can even say that some of God’s greatest gifts to me have been the very things He has decided to withhold.

Can you trust God with the things He has decided to withhold from your life? He knows what He’s doing. And, as Psalm 84:11 testifies, He truly is our sun (who illumines our way) and our shield (who protects us from harm).

Lord, thank You for the times You have blessed me with what I want. And I trust You with the times that You have said “no” and withheld things for my good. Thank You for Your whispers of protection through what You withhold. I trust Your best for me.

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number 51c1emyNztL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Cindi’s new book, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Has God withheld something that seemed “good” to you? Did He eventually show you why?