What am I entitled to in this life?
As a sinner, I'm entitled to the wages of my sin: death (Rom 6:23) -- physical, spiritual and eternal.
One of the first things I remember where I really saw it in myself was during the drought summer. It was day after day of relentless 100+ degree F heat. It was difficult, and I found myself murmuring about it.
I've always struggled when any of the animals we have die, as I talked about several years ago in this blog post, although it seems the Lord has granted some graces since then in this area.
Last year, when some things were being taken that I felt shouldn't, I reacted extremely carnally toward the people, confronting them angrily, yelling at them. I felt badly about it that night and asked God to forgive me for that, and for besmirching His name and the group, and the next day I apologized to those involved, and my reaction was disgusting to me.
But my reaction really got me examining myself. Am I entitled to any temporal thing, as if God owes me something? Comfort, a place to live, the animals, shelter, money, a family, successful gardens or crops (even if I do all of the right things with them), good health, nourishment from our daily bread (which is one reason we say meal blessings, and as a type of asking for nourishment from spiritual food).......my next heartbeat.......anything?
And then something clicked. I have been seeing things from my carnal, in-the-moment vantage point, and not seeing them as God sees them. I have been holding on to things temporal, when in reality everything is His to do with as He pleases, in any way He wants; every temporal thing around me is really just a fleeting vapor in time; whatever He is doing -- in the temporal or spiritual realms -- is for His glory and the benefit of His Church. And I saw my sense of entitlement.
And a sense of entitlement inevitably leads to ungratefulness.
In the end, am I really entitled to anything temporal? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? How would that be answered in light of the Christian martyrs? Or with regards to those who have spent year after year after year in prison for Christ's sake? How about all the times He allowed His people to come under bondage? If temporal freedom is an entitlement to man from God, and since God is all-powerful and sovereign over all, then it would seem to me that it follows that God would have failed in supplying man's just due, thus making Him unjust, which obviously cannot be.
Am I my own? As Jonathan Edwards mentioned in "Charity and Its Fruits," I am not my own -- God owns me, and in each situation, I am due worse because of sin, and anything better than that is a grace and mercy from our Creator.
Am I entitled to things going "my way"? ANY thing to go "my way"? To go according to my expectations? I believe God is the only One entitled to such, and it also seems to me any sense of expecting things to go how I want them (ie. entitlement) is putting myself as god. Plus, even my best thoughts on how things should go are going to be tainted with sin, so why should I put any trust in them? Why shouldn't I put my trust in Him who is all knowing, all wise, all good, all righteous, and all holy?
Is anything actually "mine"? Everything is God's; and so, if anything is "taken from me," even unjustly, it is by God's sovereign will they were, for His glory. And so, there is nothing supporting any sense of entitlement to anything that I might think is mine, which is really only God putting it under my care for whatever time-span He deems right.
How about Job? First, by God's decree, "his" things were taken from him, one might say "unjustly" (ie. not for anything specific he did). But second, Elihu upbraided him for justifying himself more than justifying God and His providence -- see Puritan commentator John Gill's commentary on Job 32:2, and then read the entire exchange between God and Job, and Job's eventual responses (including his first response, which wasn't good enough for God), in Job 32-42. The irony is that denying God's justice in anything, even perceived injustices, is charging God with injustice.
Further, while I should observe Luke 6:31, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise", am I entitled to receive the same from others? What did the Lord Jesus, who actually *was* entitled to all glory, honor and respect, face here on earth?
Matt 22:15 - "Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.And then they murdered Him (Acts 2:22-24).
Ps 56:5-6 - "5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul."
Matt 26:14,16 - "14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,...16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."
Luke 19:47 - "And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,"
Matt 27:20 - "But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus."
If I want to follow Christ, here's what I can expect, and what's expected of me, since the servant is not above his master (Matt 10:24; Gill on Matt 10:24):
Luke 9:23 - "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
John Gill says "that afflictions, trials, and persecutions of one sort or another, are to be expected every day by the people of God, and to be continually submitted to, and borne with cheerfulness." (emphasis added); and we learn that Christ even grew in the exercise of graces through His sufferings (Heb 5:8).
And then I ask for Jehovah God to help me wait on Him, in His perfect will, with strength of heart and courage (Ps 27:11-14), and be still and know that He is God (Ps 46).
Finally and briefly, am I entitled to salvation or God's graces just because I say a prayer? To enlightenment from His word just because I read it? To the means of grace (the Bible, in my own language; teachings; etc.) themselves? These are all of grace, although I can and should indeed ask for them (for example, asking God for spiritual nourishment from our daily spiritual bread).
Anything I have has been sovereignly given to me out of pure grace and mercy from the Lord of all creation, all for His glory and in some way for the good of His Church (Rom 8:28; see Gill on this verse too), and I believe myself individually to be generally inconsequential in the matter.
I pray the Lord have mercy on me a sinner (Luke 18:13). I pray for forgiveness for my sense of entitlement and unthankfulness, and pray God grants me repentance from those, and help against them. May we see things as God sees them, and not hold on to anything in the temporal; may we pick up our cross daily, cheerfully, deny ourselves, and follow the Lord Christ; may He grant help in the cross-bearing; may we be thankful for His help and any graces He mercifully grants; and may He grant that His grace be sufficient for us:
2 Cor 12: 9 - "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
And he said unto me
Either by what the Jews call (lwq) (tb) , "Bath Kol", a voice from heaven, an articulate audible one; or by some extraordinary revelation of the Spirit of God; or by a divine impression upon his mind; whereby he was assured of what follows,
my grace is sufficient for thee;
the Lord always hears and answers his people sooner or later, in one form or another, though not always in the way and manner they desire; but yet in such a way as is most for his glory and their good: the apostle had not his request granted, that Satan might immediately depart from him, only he is assured of a sufficiency of grace to support him under the exercise, so long as it should last. There seems to be an allusion to the word (ydv) , "Shaddai", an appellation of God, ( Genesis 17:1 ) , and signifies, "which is sufficient": for God is all sufficient, and is a name that belongs to the Messiah. The angel whom God promised to the Israelites, to go before them in the wilderness, ( Exodus 23:23 ) , the Jews say is "Metatron" (which is a corruption of the word "mediator"), whose name is as the name of his master. "Metatron" by gematry is "Shaddai, one that is sufficient": however, certain it is, that the grace of Christ is alone sufficient for all his people, to all saving purposes, in all their times of need. It is alone sufficient, not to the exclusion of the grace of the Father or the Spirit; but in opposition and distinction to anything else, that may be rightly or wrongly called grace; what men generally call common or sufficient grace, which, they say, is given to all men, is a mere chimera; no grace is sufficient but what is effectual, and that is only the grace of Christ: the light of nature is insufficient to any saving purpose; the Gospel, which is called grace, and is the means of grace, is insufficient of itself to salvation, without the powerful and efficacious grace of Christ going along with it; and so are gifts, whether ordinary or extraordinary: nothing short of the grace of Christ is sufficient grace; and this is sufficient for all the elect of God, Jews and Gentiles, Old and New Testament saints, the family in heaven and in earth, the people of God that are already called, and are to be called, and for the worst and vilest of sinners; and it is sufficient to all saving purposes, to the acceptance of their persons before God, to their justification in his sight, to their pardon and cleansing, to their regeneration and sanctification, to the supply of all their wants, and to their perseverance in grace unto glory; and it is sufficient in all their times of need, in times of bodily affliction, of violent persecution, soul desertion, Satan's temptations, and at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. The reason given to support this answer, and to strengthen the apostle's faith in it, is,
for my strength is made perfect in weakness;
by the "strength" of Christ is meant, not his strength as the mighty God, but that communicative strength which he has, and is in him as Mediator, and which saints look to him for, and receive from him; this is "made perfect in" their "weakness"; not that their weakness can add perfection to his strength, for his strength is perfect in itself, not to say anything of the contradiction such a sense carries in it; but the meaning is, that the strength of Christ is made to appear, is illustrated and shines forth in its perfection and glory, in supplying, supporting, and strengthening his people under all their weakness; and if they were not left to some weaknesses in themselves, his strength would not be so manifest; see ( James 2:22 ) . The answer to the apostle's request, supported with this reason, was wonderfully satisfactory to him; wherefore he concludes,
most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities;
in the weaknesses which attended either his body or soul, through the buffetings of the angel Satan, rather than in his visions and revelations; or rather than insist upon his departure from him, he is content things should be as they were, since he had such a promise of a sufficiency of grace to bear him up, under and through whatever was the pleasure of God concerning him; and since the strength of Christ was made illustrious through his weakness, so that Satan was not able to make any advantage over him, he is willing to remain in the same posture and condition:
that the power of Christ,
may rest upon me,
or "tabernacle over me"; he considered himself as a poor weak feeble creature, and the power of Christ as a tabernacle over him, as the power of God is represented as a garrison about the believer, ( 1 Peter 1:5 ) , sheltering, preserving, and protecting him from the insults of Satan, in every form and shape; see ( Isaiah 4:6 ) , where Christ is said to be a tabernacle, for a place of refuge, and for a covert.