Thursday, March 21, 2013

Entitlement: Somebody Pays the Price

"...incomparable riches of His grace..." - Ephesians 2:7
"...the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way." - Ephesians 1:23
"...His incomparably great power for us who believe." - Ephesians 1:19
"...the riches of His glorious inheritance..." - Ephesians 1:18

What we have in Christ is beyond description, greater than we could ever ask or imagine, fuller, beyond complete, majestic, powerful, and ours by His grace and sacrifice.

"I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). I love these words because they mean no more entitlement, individuality, working for or earning of the free gift of grace. They give freedom and permission to lay down my constant striving and forcing to make things happen as well as my frustration, despair, envy and need for comparison when they don't happen. There is nothing I can ever do to receive the indescribable.

My parents worked and still work hard to get where they are and have what they have. Most of us do. They were and are faithful, consistent, persistent laborers. Many of us are. But many of us also believe (and act blatantly or subtly) that we are to live a life of entitlement. We expect to have what we want when and how we want it regardless of what it may cost others. God promises us abundance as His children, but we forget about what it cost Him.

I have the opportunity to mentor a group of tween girls and one of them shared how an adult had said something that made her angry. The girl said this adult would now have to earn her respect just like everyone else. I and her teachers explained to her that respect is not to be earned but simply given and that all human beings are to be respected regardless of what they have, don't have, do and don't do. She and her classmates weren't buying it.

I am amazed at how we assume that we are entitled to goodness, respect, abundance and a great life without taking into consideration what it costs to have and maintain it all. We neglect or choose not to respect, acknowledge or give thanks to those who sacrificed and paid the price for us to have freedom and opportunities for good. Studying God's Word this morning reminded me of how I, too take advantage of my parents and others who have worked hard and sacrificed their lives and dreams so that I could have what I have. And not only do I treat others this way, but at times God gets treated this way.

Christ gave up His deity, came as a baby, lived in this world with us, taught the truth despite ridicule and persecution, allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross and die a slow death for the sake of the Father. What He did is the cost of our freedom in Him. Not freedom to do what we want when and how we want, but freedom from situations, relationships, actions that can destroy us or keep us from being the great people He created us to be - people who honor and worship Him. In Him we are entitled, but not to our worldly ideas, plans, purposes, desires or ideas of what we think we deserve. In Him we have the capability to go before the Lord and worship Him.   In Him we can know unspeakable joy, beauty and power. In Him we can receive a love that is so full, no human can match it. In Him we are entitled to abundance, "incomparable riches," "the fullness of Him," "His incomparable great power," " the riches of His glorious inheritance," not for our own purposes, but for fulfilling the abundant and glorious life we can have in Him.

By His grace, His power, His mercy, His cost we are entitled. Why? So that we may taste and receive the hope He has for us and to know what cost Him everything and us nothing. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). This gift of grace entitles us to the fullness and incomparable riches of His glory. It also comes so that we can and choose to worship Him and Him alone versus our own desires, needs and obsessions. He is to be our obsession.

In our own strength and ability, we could never earn what we have been given - access to the Father. And, although we are entitled now by grace, we must not take advantage or assume with arrogance that we got it like that. We are to live in humble confidence knowing that what we have is full, incomparable, costly and more than we can ever imagine or make happen. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good work, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). This is what we are entitled to.

Be blessed,