I must admit there are things in my life for which I feel shame. For instance, when I drive to West Epping I always park at the rear of the cottage in the space adjacent to the back wall. When someone else parks there I feel irritated and annoyed because “my” spot has been taken!
But, this is ridiculous! I have no more right to a particular spot in the church car park than the next person. Yet I feel and I act as though I do.
We all go through life with a sense of “entitlement”. It may concern an inflated sense of who we are or a belief that we are indispensable to the positions or roles that we hold. It may be a preoccupation with how we feel. Or it could be a fixation on what we think others are saying about us.
In all of this we lose sight of the reality around us. Others are perceived as competition or as threats. We are preoccupied with self that, in its extreme, can become quite toxic because it harms and excludes others.
Jesus had some harsh things to say about entitlement. In the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) all those who work on the day receive the same wages. This seems so unfair because some labourers worked long hours while others worked just a few.
Privileges or consideration of one’s rights do not come into play here. Nor does any sense of what’s fair. Rather, the focus of this parable concerns God’s generosity which is poured out on all people.
This is generosity without exception. No one, despite who they are or who they think they are, is entitled to God’s special favour. No one is more deserving than the other in God’s order of things, not even the minister who gets ruffled when someone parks in “his” car spot!
Everything, and I mean everything, we have in life is a pure gift from God.
So, forget about your so-called “entitlements”. Demanding things from God is sheer folly. Claiming your place in the world at the expense of others is foolhardy and reckless.
“Entitlements” amount to nothing. God’s generosity is all that matters!
Rev John Barr