Thursday, May 28, 2009

Elder Brotherish Entitlement

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."
-Romans 1:21

This weekend, someone confronted me with the truth that my fears surrounding the past and the future were the result of a real lack of gratitude for what God was doing in my present.

WHAT?! I’m totally grateful AND thankful. Come on.

But then when I got to thinking about it, when I really evaluated it, I realized that I have a pretty serious attitude of entitlement. When I looked at my thoughts, they were totally gross… I believed that I was deserving of my blessings. Because why? Oh, well, because I’m a pretty good person. And because I deserve beauty for ashes in my life because I have followed the rules, right?

Wow. How convenient that that kind of attitude makes me my own savior so that every blessing that comes my way is either 1) something I deserve because of my performance or 2) not quite good enough because I think I deserve something a little better.

"In her novel Wise Blood, Flannery O' Connor says of her character Hazel Motes that 'there was a deep, black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.' This is a profound insight. You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. If you do that, then you have "rights". God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die. You don't need a Savior who pardons you by free grace, for you are your own Savior." -The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons. The younger one takes his part of his fathers inheritance and squanders it on “wild living” and then returns to his fathers home, asks for forgiveness and is welcomed with open arms.

The elder brother responds to his fathers compassion in the following manner:
“Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

Hmm… that sounds a little familiar…

And T. Keller points out in his book The Prodigal God that those of us who are “elder brothers” (ahem, LAUREN) are just as depraved and fallen as the “younger brothers” but that it is a more dangerous trap because we are so blinded by our own self-righteousness. Instead of replacing the need for a savior with “wild living” to fill our emptiness, we have replaced it with our performance, by our law keeping, by living our lives as “a good person.”

So hopefully taking a good hard look at my own depravity and at Jesus as the one who has saved me from that will shake loose my attitude of entitlement.

And hopefully losing my attitude of entitlement will result in a deeper attitude of gratefulness for my blessings in the here and now.

P.S. Photo by Leslie Talley.

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