WRITTEN BY Christine Overholt
In an effort to keep the staff blog page alive and well, we have come up with a schedule. Without a schedule, while good intentions exist, the blog page may very well become irrelevant or obsolete as those posting, well…cease to post. It is now my turn. While I enjoy an opportunity to ponder a topic, I feel a great deal of thought is required before presenting said topic to the masses. This great deal of thought requires a great deal of time, which is where I find myself in a deficit. I am immediately overwhelmed with all the other irons I have placed in the fire and feel that I am obligated a “pass.” I have Bible studies to prepare, groups to lead, events to plan and a retreat around the corner. Surely I have a right not to fulfill my current obligation. And just like that, the bane of my existence appears once again, “my rights.”
In order to make this one syllable word seem more palatable, I prefer the more impressive four syllable word, “entitlement.”
Ah yes, that sounds so much better. I can camouflage what’s really going on quite nicely in all those letters. According to Merriam Webster, entitlement is a noun defined as “the state or condition of being entitled: right” or a “belief that one is deserving or entitled to certain privileges.” OK, so we are going to use the word entitled to define entitlement? Fine, what is the definition for entitled? (Side note: I am becoming a little annoyed with the dictionary using a form of the word to define the current word, how lazy! My time is precious, why do I have to look up yet another word? But I digress.) “Entitled” is a transitive verb which means to “furnish with proper grounds for seeking or claiming something.” Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! I am a master at furnishing proper grounds for each and every one of my claims and believe I may have missed my calling as a defense attorney. Don’t believe me? Here are some examples.
I am entitled to become frustrated with those moving, talking or responding slower than I wish because my time is valuable and a precious commodity.
I am entitled to be less than cordial with my family when I have a major event coming up or have had a stressful week. Everyone should understand the pressure I am under. I should only be required to be pleasant when life has treated me likewise and I have the rest and faculties to muster up such pleasantries.
I am entitled not to listen carefully or casually tune out of a conversation that starts to become less than interesting. This gives me time to postulate my witty response or create a way of changing the subject.
I am entitled to determine my perception of others based on how they perceive and receive me. If they are less than interested or presume me absurd, I am completely within my rights to exact the same edict to them as well.
My entitlement…my rights…I have a whole fist of them…actually two!
Whenever I am offended, misunderstood, angered, undervalued (you get the idea) I feel a swelling within me that either literally or figuratively results in two fists of entitlement. I have not been bestowed with the “certain privileges” I am due. My “rights” have been violated and what ultimately has happened is my pride has suffered a blow. Well I just can’t have that…or can I? Thankfully, with age comes wisdom and while I am still in battle with my fleshly self-love, through the Spirit I have learned to examine why my hands have formed fists and determine if the cause is indeed justified (which by the way, rarely is!). This examination is done through the lens of Scripture. Because I do not have the time (I told you already I’m busy!) or the space, I will briefly highlight a few passages God has used to refine my character.
I am not the center of the universe therefore I cannot demand that the universe cater to me (wow that was harder to say than I thought!) I am condemned with the very first verse of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created…” I am immediately faced with the fact that the universe does not exist to serve me. I am not the Creator, God is. Genesis 1 is filled with what God said, what God saw, what God did, what God made. My name isn’t mentioned anywhere! Because of this, He alone determines the parameters because after all, I am part of His creation. This alone is perspective changing! God defines me and clarifies my purpose.
My purpose is to bring God glory. To start with, God created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). My personhood reflects God in some way because He created it to do so. When this reflective image of mine is moved to action, I am reminded that I am to do so in a way that brings God glory (I Corinthians 10:31). When I am moved to action which truly results in a “good deed” (which is only possible by life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Spirit…a discussion for another time), the result is others bringing glory to God because of what they have witnessed (Matthew 5:16). I don’t exist for my glory but for God’s.
How can I best bring glory to God given our current topic? Philippians 2:3-11 outlines just how to do that as it points me to the example of Christ. I am to approach life unselfishly and humbly. I am to see others as more important than myself. Why? Because “Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (verses 5-7). This always blows me away. Here I am with two fists full of rights and Jesus, instead of being worshipped and served, comes as a servant to do the will of the Father which yields the result of glorifying God the Father. If anyone could ever claim entitlement, it was Jesus – and he didn’t – so that the Father would be glorified.
Every day of my existence should be focused on minimizing my entitlements and maximizing God’s glory. When I am tempted to make my defense for whatever self-love moment I find myself in, I need to remember the world does not revolve around me…how about you? Have you heard some of my arguments coming out of your mouth? Have you crafted your own defense when someone has stomped all over your rights? Have you experienced that swelling within your being that screams you have been wronged and undervalued? Let’s consider others as more important than ourselves and seek opportunities to serve rather than be served. Let’s follow the example of Jesus.
How will you glorify God today?
Christine is the Women’s Ministry Director at Wallen Baptist Church