This is sort of a aside, but I’ve noticed every time I bring up this subject – the subject of entitlement, which I’ve done frequently lately – a number of people drop off my mailing list. There’s a flurry of them. I think the reason this happens is because young adults are extremely sensitive to being labeled as entitled. So we’re here talking about it, and they quickly unsubscribe. Why is that? Well, I think people in my generation criticize them a lot for that and they’re tired of hearing it – probably only need to hear it but once. But from my working with a cross section of the population – from old age, all the way back to teenage – it doesn’t seem to me that young adults have a lock on that problem any more than those of us who are older. There are people in all age groups who suffer from this lack of acceptance of reality.
If we look at the list that we created at the beginning of the presentation, please notice that most of things on this list we can change, if we want to – if we’re willing to work hard enough – or make changes in the way we think, or the way we spend our time. I mean, that being the case, then, to just feel like you deserve it without any work puts you in a situation where you’re not going to have the things you want.
A middle-aged woman came to me one time, and complained bitterly about her ex-husband. “He was not physically abusive, but he was not really that good of provider,” she said. And she went on and on complaining about him, and how unfair her life was, and why didn’t God protect her from that. When I suggested that she had a part to play in the issue, because she was the one that selected him, she got up and left. She was entitled to make a wrong choice and not suffer the consequences for it. But there are consequences in life. That is life. Everything we do, there’s a consequence to it, whether it’s bad…. If we’re not careful about major decisions, it’s easy to make a mistake. And, as long as we blame God or somebody else for our mistake, we’re never going to learn the lesson we need to learn and go forward. And with this woman, as long as she continues to disconnect her choices from the consequences of them, she’s going to remain discontented. And that goes for people that think they deserve things that they didn’t earn. They’re not going to get what they really want out of life in the long run.
Why do you suppose that we have so many different groups, even within our small Church of God faith? Let’s look in 1 Timothy 6:3. Here’s another really interesting scripture.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 – If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth – boy! That’s a statement for you!
Have you ever met people who always seem to be in the middle of drama? I heard a story recently about a man who went to a Church of God congregation, and he complained to other people in the congregation about the pastor and he gathered a following. Then he contacted the church organization headquarters and complained bitterly about his pastor. Someone came out from the headquarters to assess the situation, and after taking in all the information, they suggested the minister resign, which he did. Now once this man got his pastor fired, he quit the congregation and joined another COG group. So what do we think he will do there? There’s another reason we have so much fracturing. And beside that, people like to be in the middle of controversy. But there’s another one.
The next thing Paul said was that these people that these people that are depraved and without God:
V-5 – …imagine that godliness is a means of gain. Sometimes the drama is to gain control or gain a following. And there is money in religion. So some people covet it. And gullible people can’t see that, but it’s there, and they follow along.
Paul continues with a very important verse now – verse 6:
V-6-10 – But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But, if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And it is through this craving that some have wondered away from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows – get in all kinds of problems – get in way too deep.
So when we have a relationship with and follow Jesus Christ and are content with what He’s given us, that’s about as good as it’s going to get. This life is not supposed to be a millennial paradise. If we can have a relationship with God and follow Christ and are content with what He’s gives us, that’s about it. Let’s look in Philippians 4:11 – Paul said:
Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Oh, well, if whatever situation he’s in, to be content, he’s always content. He said: I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Paul says the secret of being content can be found in Jesus Christ. The scriptures we covered today and many more explain how to do that.
Something else that we need to think about here: Matthew 7:7.
Matthew 7:7-11 – Ask and it will be given you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Jesus was talking about finding God, but He wasn’t just talking about that. He was speaking about a universal principle that works in every arena of life. If we want a compatible mate, and take the time to really seek for that person – get-to-know perspective – and look for the best one and understand ourselves, and know what we would need, then that’s how that happens. But, if you just marry somebody because you think they’re going to be a good provider, and don’t think about anything else, then you get what you deserve.
I was watching a fascinating documentary recently about the Nez Perce Indian tribe. They were known for their horsemanship. That was sort of their identity of the plains people. But when they lost the war of 1887 with the US Army, all their horses were taken away from them. This documentary was about one Native-American man living on the reservation there in Wyoming – or maybe it was Idaho – who had the vision of restoring their ability to work with and have quality horses. And he was working with their kids, getting them involved in it – teaching them to ride and they had a breeding program going where they were trying to get back the kind of horses they used to have. He was just totally single-minded about this whole thing. And it was proving very successful. They sold some of the horses they had bred for $12,000 a piece. They interviewed one of the tribal fathers who had been watching all this taking place over time. So this Native-American tribal father, he’d been watching this thing go on, gaining steam, getting ready to really break out, and he made the comment: “If you really want something, and you can’t find it, just keep looking for it.” And this man who was working with the horses and the kids and the tribe was an example of that kind of searching. Besides searching, there was a huge amount of effort being funneled toward that activity. He knew that, if he was going to find it, he was going to be part of building it.
Searching is hard work. You’ve got to knock. And you’ve got to seek. Think about the twelve disciples. They had been given instructions by Christ to go out into the world, preach the gospel and make disciples. And they knew their job was to build the church and that that work that they were going to do was going to last until Christ returned. They all went out all over the world to do the work of God, seeking disciples. We know the most about Paul from his letters. We know that terrible things happened to that man – terrible things. But he never stopped seeking disciples and seeking to preach the gospel to people that hadn’t heard it yet – and also seeking eternal life, for that matter. And what was the end result? Well, he said he learned to be content with whatever state he was in. He had his eye firmly fixed on Christ and was seeking Him. And he had it all – contentment with godliness.
So, to sum it up today, when we’re disconnected, we have to put our attention on something more important. Let’s read 1 Peter 1:3. This is what we need to focus on.
1 Peter 1:3-9 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith – the salvation of your souls.