Welcome to “Java for Life.” I am your online barista. Allow me to fix you a devotional drink about the Christian life. Today’s cup is an Almond Latte about our sense of entitlement. It’s that inner sense of what we feel we deserve. The stronger the sense, the harder it is to be content and to have healthy relationships.
In fact, all the around the world, relationships are breaking just days after Valentine’s Day! Statistics show that the day after Valentine’s Day holds the most break-ups of relationships. And it’s because people hold out hope that Valentine’s Day might give them a reason to continue the relationship only to find that it doesn’t! And so, the decision is made to break it off, right after that day of chocolates, flowers, and expensive dinners.
Now, there are many reasons why a relationship breaks, but the most common reason is a sense of entitlement. Granted, this sense of entitlement is understandable in some respects, especially when it comes to careers and work. For example, you build and build and then build some more and then expect to reap the benefits of your hard work. And in this sense, it is not entirely a bad thing. We should all work hard and then be blessed with benefits in our old age. And this java is not a criticism of that sense of entitlement.
But when it comes to relationships, a sense of entitlement can be problematic. Now, don’t misunderstand, it would be great if we all worked hard on our relationships (and we should) and then reap the benefits. But apart from these blessings, there is a sense of entitlement that can actually damage a relationship.
Consider that our sense of entitlement works directly with our expectations. The more expectations the stronger the sense of entitlement. Think about it. Think about the woman who dreams of finding Mr. Right and gets married only to find that Mr. Right has a lot of things wrong with him. Her expectations can be crushed. And this actually intensifies the sense of entitlement. She begins to say things like, “I deserve so much better.” Her girlfriends say, “yes, you deserve a better man than him.” Now think about the man who carried all kinds of expectations into his marriage only to find that his wife is not who he expected. He begins to think that he deserves so much more from a relationship. And by thinking such, he is tempted to leave the relationship.
Now, we should all expect more from our relationships. But there is a proper place for expectations. But if it intensifies our sense of entitlement, that is definitely a problem. Think about it. Our sense of entitlement is all about us and not about others. It’s about what we deserve and not the needs of others. In its worst form, it is downright selfishness. And all experts say that selfishness is the number one killer of a relationship.
And if we focus on what we deserve, then it’s like having a sacred list of rights that become non-negotiable. It becomes our “Bill of Rights, sacred, inalienable and inviolable. Do you have a bill of rights? Check out the following Relationship Bill of Rights.
The right to date and get married
The right to have and express personal opinions
The right to be respected and appreciated
The right to belong, be loved, and be accepted
The right to privacy
The right to have children
The right to be happy!
And the right to keep adding to your bill of rights!
This bill of rights can unroll like a sacred scroll in our relationships. But today’s java is about another sacred scroll, the Bible. And it’s really about unrolling the true scroll and finding a deeper and more scared perspective on our sense of entitlement in the light of the greater purpose for lives.
And the most powerful example of entitlement in the light of a greater purpose is Jesus himself who laid down all that he is entitled to have for the greater purpose.
Philippians 2:3-8 speaks to this:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
No one is entitled to more than Jesus himself. And no one had more to lose that Jesus. For, he had all the majesty and benefits of heaven which is far greater than anything on earth. Yet, he lays it all down for the greater purpose. As the sacred scroll says he “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” In other words, he did not grab hold of what he is entitled to have.
In your small group: Discuss your sense of entitlement and how it has impacted your relationship. Share and pray about your needs to be more like Jesus.
And so, today’s java has a profound taste. The meaning of life and our relationships is all about the greater purpose and not about what we deserve. Consider today what God is calling you to do. Consider how staying in an imperfect marriage or relationship is more noble than running away to find what you think you deserve. And if you are single, consider the nobler dynamics as you seek a future relationship. And for all of you, consider today the greater purposes for your life.