Recently I was thinking about nothing in particular and all of a sudden I had a vision, kind of like an awake dream… But first I want to explain how entitlement crept into my life. It actually looked nothing like what I expected, which is why I probably never noticed it. I grew up pretty independent (an understatement), as a kid who needed to fend for myself in a lot of ways I learned that sometimes I would have to demand things I needed because it’s not like anyone else was going to help me. I didn’t understand that I had a Father in heaven who would fight for me and protect me, I thought I didn’t have a choice except to do it myself. It wasn’t my fault at the time that I learned how to survive in my environment, however, it didn’t make it a right way to live. Later in life this self-reliance was often called a virtue by some… “She can find a way to get what she wants” or “she is the best negotiator around”… I believed that yes meant yes and no meant “harder to get yes”. While this is not all bad, it’s a problem when no actually needs to be no or when being persuasive so easily slips into manipulation. I’m reminded of Galatians 5:22-26 in the MSG: “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—… We find ourselves…not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely… Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way …is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives…”
So this one has been a journey for me, particularly because it’s always been there in some way. These can be the hardest things to shake for good because we have unintentionally worked these attributes into our lives in such a way that we begin to think they are just a part of our personality. Not so! I love how Galatians 5:26 implies that it’s our responsibility to work out the implications of what it means to live God’s way in every detail of our lives.
So back to the vision… It was an interesting one because I could discern what I was thinking in the vision and how God was responding to my thoughts. Here’s what I saw:
I was standing with a group of people receiving some sort of award and I said out loud “I’m so grateful and honored by this” to the people standing around. At the same time a mental conversation began between myself and God. He said “you’re not honored, you think you deserve this and you’ve been waiting for it”. Of course I was shocked… then God continued “in order for you to truly be honored by something you need to have been ok without it and not believe that you had it coming. Only then can you actually be grateful and not entitled.”
….and then God hypothetically dropped the mic and walked away…
Isn’t is amazing how one minute of insight from the Holy Spirit can bring clarity and breakthrough in an area that has had us bound for as long as we can remember?? Seriously? How loving is God to give us the keys we need to walk in freedom!
I meditated on this vision for a while and I started to wonder- how can I believe God’s promises and have hope that they will come to pass without accidentally slipping into entitlement? Am I supposed to live with no expectation? The more I mediated on this God began to show me the difference between entitlement and expectation. Priorly to me these things would have been so similar I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference…but how different they actually are.
To say that I am honored by an opportunity or esteem means that I would have truly been content and fine without it but am so grateful to have it. If I thought it should be mine anyway than I am not honored, I am getting what I think should be mine. Yikes.
It’s about getting to a place where I have great expectancy and hope for the promises of God, but when they are fulfilled I am in an attitude of gratefulness, knowing that it’s the grace of God that He gave me the dream and it’s His grace that fulfilled it. For one to be truly honored there has to be an absence of ALL entitlement.
For example, when I buy something on Amazon I expect it to arrive and if it doesn’t I’m upset, or I would attempt to follow it up with the seller. I have purchased something that belongs to me and haven’t received it!! … The thing is, everything has been purchased on my behalf by Jesus. When I died to myself and became alive in Him I gave up my rights as an independent entity. Everything I now receive is directly from him, not from my own “purchasing power”. This is why everything we receive is a gift, not an entitlement. This is why I can be grateful for absolutely everything. Unless Jesus gives it to me, it doesn’t belong to me and I can’t require it.
This isn’t to say that we don’t have great dreams and expectation for the things coming in our lives… Using the Amazon illustration again, say it’s your birthday and your dad tells you he’s sending you a special gift. You’re excited and you know it’s coming, you might even run to the mailbox everyday to see if it’s arrived, however, you are overwhelmed with gratitude because you understand who paid for it and that it was given to you out of love and relationship with your dad.
This revelation was such a powerful one for me and gave me the freedom to live a life of gratitude in all kinds of situations, especially ones in the past that would have motivated a level of entitlement.
Lately when the waiter tells me they can’t adjust the menu I’ve been oddly kind of ok with it. I can operate within another’s boundaries in a new way and honestly sometimes it’s healthy to (not) get what we want.
I can now continue to live full of hope and expectancy because my dad called and told me that something’s on the way. And let’s be honest…it’s probably something I couldn’t afford.