So here in 2019 we started a pretty big series entitled “What is your kryptonite?” and here’s the idea. There is a way that we should be living our lives as Christians. As we read scripture it is pretty clear that our lives should be described a certain way. Through the course of this series I have really been using three very specific words on what the life of a disciple of Christ should look like. Those three words were Freedom, victory, and power. This is how our lives SHOULD look as followers of Jesus…free, victorious, and lived by God’s power.
Freedom – John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. NIV
Victory – 1 John 5:4 For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory. 5 And the ones who win this battle against the world are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. NLT
Power – 1 Corinthians 4:20 For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God’s power. NLT
So this is what our lives as Christian’s SHOULD and COULD look like, but for so many of us if we are honest, this is not how we would describe our spiritual lives at all. We definitely want that freedom, victory, and power in our lives but we just don’t see it. We read scripture and know that we SHOULD and COULD have this in our lives, but it really isn’t our reality. And that is because there is this “thing” out there that can take, distract, and weaken us…keeping us from being the very people God created us to be. For the purpose of this series we are calling this “thing” our spiritual kryptonite, but what we are actually talking about is sin and what we are really doing is looking at how this “spiritual kryptonite” can keep us from being the kind of people that we read about in scripture. Sin can keep us from hitting that mark of freedom, victory, and power in our lives. Now I know everyone gets a little nervous when we talk about sin and holiness type things in church, but I often wonder why that is, since we ALL deal with it. We all deal with sin which is why we all need Jesus, just something I want to remind you of in case you are getting a little nervous as we start this talk today…remember Paul’s words…we all deal with this.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. NLT
Ok, so now we can relax and get rolling because we aren’t alone in dealing with this sin thing…we ALL deal with this, which is why we all need Jesus so desperately!
So today we are going to continue looking at these forms of spiritual kryptonite by looking at one of the most dangerous mentalities that we can all slide into, and many…many…many of us do. Today we are looking at entitlement. And I want to tell you right off the bat, this is so dangerous because entitlement can actually block you from knowing Jesus in a personal way because it is just a completely opposite of the ways of God. So not only is entitlement very popular today, it’s also very dangerous because it can block us from walking in our relationship with God. We want that closeness with God, and entitlement keeps us from that. We want that intimacy because when we walk in step with God we get to live in that freedom, victory, and power that a Christian should be walking in. Entitlement is a huge blocker to your relationship with God, and can do real damage in your spiritual life. So let’s start by defining it.
What exactly is entitlement? Entitlement is the belief that we deserve privileges or special treatment, or that we have the right to something. It’s this thinking that I deserve it…I’m owed it. Basically it’s this mentality that says I deserve it. I should have it…even if I didn’t really earn it because hey, I’m me! Now just by defining what this thing is, I think we can easily see this mentality all over the place in our culture today. This feeling or thought that, “I deserve better. I deserve more. I deserve it all. People should take care of me. I’m entitled to more than I’m getting. I have the right to everything everyone else has!”
So this is the kryptonite that we are tackling today, and I think now that we have defined it you might be thinking…”Sam, I get what it is, but I think you may be over stated things a bit this morning calling it one of the most dangerous forms of sin out there!” That seems a little dramatic. I mean, while I can see this entitlement thing everywhere today, I don’t get the danger in it.” Well if we stop and think this through, before we look at the damage this can cause our spiritual lives, I’d like to start by looking at our practical lives, and our relationships and we can begin to see how this mentality can hurt those around us in very real and very painful ways.
First, an entitled person puts themselves in the center of life. If you remember last week we said that a modern day idol was anything I center my life on that isn’t God…big no-no right? But let’s keep going. Because they are focused on themselves they can cause real damage to those around them, and quite frankly not even realize it. They certainly can’t feel others or place themselves in someone else’s shoes because they are that focused on themselves. They struggle to understand how others are feeling around them. They struggle to see how what they do can actually be hurting the people around them. They live in their own world expecting others to serve them. Because remember they believe they deserve it! They can trample people’s feelings, and wear out everyone around them, because everyone around them must cater to them. The people around them can feel hurt, even disrespected, and what is amazing or maybe sad is that the entitled person never sees it or gets it. So there can be this wake of pain and hurt behind them, all while they expect more and more from others, never being able to see or feel the damage they are doing to everyone around them. Do you see the danger here? They alienate their loved ones, hurting those they care about. Which can push everyone away from them, and they never really know why, because they don’t feel it, or see it. Why because they are entitled! Real hurt, real pain, real damage…all while just moving on through life expecting others to serve me…because hey, I deserve it!
This damage is tragic in a young person growing up, but if entitlement is never dealt with guess what happens next. The young person doesn’t stay young! They take this mentality right into their adult lives. So they get married and can cause real pain in their marriage. Hurting the person they are to love the most. And it begins to pile up this way. They don’t understand why the raises and opportunities aren’t landing in their lap in the workplace. They can bury themselves in debt buying things they can’t afford because they believe they deserve and are entitled to everything their parents and the people around them have right now! So tension builds in the home. Their co-workers feel it too and tension builds at work. So the spouse is beat up and wounded, the financial debt is building up causing more strain…and then they become parents. And this is so hard to watch, but if I’m dealing with these feelings of entitlement as a parent my child is more of an obstacle, or in the way of everything I deserve or should be doing…and believe me, that pure hearted child will feel that over time. Maybe it’s now your parents job to help out and raise this child for you…and on and on it goes. Do you see the pain this does to people around this mentality? There is real wreckage and it needs to be dealt with because of the damage it is doing to others and how over time it can leave you all alone, and you may never even know why. This is so difficult in our practical lives…it hits us in our relationships, our pocket books, our careers and in many practical ways…make no mistake about it, entitlement is so dangerous. But it’s this next part that scares me the most.
Entitlement can literally block us from knowing Jesus in a real and personal way. This is the real danger, because even as we talked about the damage and pain we can cause with this mentality of entitlement here in this world a moment ago, the only freedom from this thing is found in Jesus. Our spiritual lives and our practical lives tie together. And entitlement can literally block us from God because this mentality opposes God in every way. This is so opposite of the heart of God and who we are to be as Christians and our way to break free from entitlement is found in living as Jesus lived. Do you see this tie between our spiritual lives and our practical lives? This is so important to me that you see this. When you live as a disciple of Jesus (you know that life with freedom, victory, and power) you live free from these things…and that isn’t just something we talk about on Sunday mornings…this spiritual health is seen in your everyday practical life. It’s the Fruit of the spirit, that love pouring in and out of us…which is a spiritual concept seen in our everyday life right? Check out Jesus’ words here as just one example…
John 13:34 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 35 This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.” MSG
Do you see it? Our Spiritual life comes out and is seen in how we relate to others. He didn’t say people will know you are my disciple by the amount of Christian t-shirts you wear…or whether or not you go to church on every Sunday morning. He said there is something very spiritual in you that comes out of you in this practical life…things like love here as an example. The practical and the spiritual tie together.
So I wanted to help you see something about this entitlement thing. It’s really dangerous. It hurts people and alienates you from people over time. There is a lot of danger to this in the physical world, and we see entitlement cause pain in relationships, it effects our homes, our parenting, even our finances and our career paths and even more so it is a big problem in the spiritual because it blocks us from intimacy and relationship with Jesus because it’s completely opposite of Him in every way! I want to show you just a few examples of just how opposite this entitlement thing is to Jesus and how he lived and taught us to live. Check out just a few examples here…
Example 1 – Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.
John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. NIV
Ok can we take a moment right here…this is Jesus, God in skin, who is heading towards the cross to save the entire human race…and look at verse 3, knowing full well that God had put all things under His power…and He puts an apron on and begins doing the unthinkable. He begins washing the feet of those “under” Him. After Peter has a typical Peter moment with Jesus, the King of Kings finishes washing their feet, puts his clothes back on and says this…
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” NIV
Jesus took the role of the servant and washed the feet of His disciples, even though we would think they should wash his feet. He told his followers that they should follow His example of humility and service. An entitled person would expect their feet to be washed, they wouldn’t put the apron on and serve like this…and what does Jesus say? “Do what I do.”
Example 2 – Jesus tells this parable in Luke about which seat we should choose when we get to a party. In this story Jesus warns us that those who seek the more significant positions may be embarrassed when someone more important comes along.
Luke 14:7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “If you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t always head for the best seat. What if someone more respected than you has also been invited? The host will say, ‘Let this person sit here instead.’ Then you will be embarrassed and will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! “Do this instead — sit at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place than this for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.” NLT
The principle Jesus wanted us to understand in this teaching is found there in verse 11… “For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.” The entitled would believe they should sit in the best seat, they deserve that. Jesus did and taught the opposite.
Example 3 – Comes from the time when James and John’s mom went to Jesus and asked Him for the best seats in Heaven. Which really upset the rest of the disciples. Which it probably would bother you and I too right? Check out Jesus’ response here. This is so opposite of our human thinking and perspective on power and privilege.
Matthew 20:25 So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. 26 It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. 27 Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. 28 That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served — and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” MSG
Jesus came to what? He came to serve not be served…an entitled person comes to be served not serve.
Example 4 – Well, I think we should just read the words of Paul here…
Philippians 2:5 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. 6 He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. 7 Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 8 Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death — and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. MSG
Do you see it? If anyone could have felt entitled it would have been Jesus, who was the only one deserving of special privileges and instead he served us all, and saved the world. Paul says we should think of ourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. Can I tell you something? The person dealing with this entitlement mentality isn’t picturing a Cross as what they have earned…just saying.
So you might be thinking, ok…I get it. Entitlement is dangerous. I see how it can cause damage to my life, I get the danger to my spiritual health. I see that it is completely opposite to the way Jesus lived and wants us to live. But what in the world do I do about it? Well I’m glad you asked because I would like to show you 5 ways I think you can fight this spiritual kryptonite so that you can walk in freedom from it.
- Focus – Focus comes up a lot around here doesn’t it? Well your focus really is a big deal. Can you focus on God or will your focus remain on yourself. If your focus stays centered on you and your will, entitlement will only gain more and more of a strangle hold on your life. So we must spend time with God, and the more that happens the more our focus can shift off of us and onto Him.
Matthew 6:6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. MSG
- Remember this…God actually doesn’t owe you anything! Remember entitlement is me feeling that I deserve reward, privilege, or the best of everything. Well maybe it’s time to remember that the truth to what we sinful humans actually deserve…isn’t what God gave us in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus so we could have eternal life. He didn’t owe that to us. We didn’t earn that. It is a gift, this is grace. Paul helps us remember what we actually earn as sinners.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. NLT
Because of sin, what we are actually entitled to would be judgement and death…that is what we earned, but thankfully God gives us the free gift of eternal life through Jesus. I think this is a great way to find humility, remembering that Jesus, who is the only one entitled to anything more than death on this Earth, gives us eternal life. The Cross and His sacrifice should tear entitlement away from our thinking.
- Gratitude – Start each day thanking God for all you do have. Establishing a heart of gratitude destroys entitlement. Can I see what I have, what I have been given and speak out my gratefulness for all God has given me…or not. This is something I’m trying to practice in my own life, starting each day thanking God for all that He has given and blessed and provided me. Listen I think we live in a world designed to keep you ungrateful and restless. I think with how connected we are to everything and everyone on social media, etc. it is easy to see what they have that we don’t which is just a miserable and exhausting way to live isn’t it? Gratitude is a huge help in killing this kryptonite.
- Pursue Contentment. We have talked two weeks in a row about how contentment can really tear down and free us from idols in our lives. Learn to be glad and thankful in what God has given to you. Can you get to a place where you can enjoy life as it is rather than longing for a day when things will be better. Maybe it’s time to get off Facebook, and Instagram and to stop looking at what everyone else has…and begin to recognize how blessed you are in what God has given you.
- Serve – I say this a lot around here. I do not believe there is a better form of discipleship for us Christians than to actually step in, roll up our sleeves and serve someone, somehow. Nothing tears away pride and arrogance and this feeling of entitlement like serving others. It softens your heart in a way that we won’t find in a class, or video, or seminar. I don’t think there is a better way to tear down this mentality of entitlement than to roll up your sleeves and help someone else. After all, this is the life Jesus taught and modelled for us all.
I would like to end this service by asking you this question. Do you see the danger of entitlement? Do you see entitlement in your life? If you do please hear me now, entitlement is a really dangerous form of kryptonite. It will keep you from walking in step with Jesus. It will keep you from walking with God’s freedom, and victory, and power…and it can really hurt you and the people all around you. Think this one through today, because the stakes are really high, then remember that your freedom from this mentality of entitlement is found in God. Think about these 5 ways you can battle entitlement. Stay focused on Jesus, spend time with God so that the focus can shift off of you and onto God. Remember what we actually deserve is death…and what we worship and celebrate in our churches every Sunday is that even though the wages of sin are actually death, God gave us the free gift of life through His Son Jesus. Look to establish gratitude and contentment in your life. Start each day thanking God for all you do have, and maybe log off the social media for a while. And lastly, and probably the best way to free up from this thing…serve. Roll up your sleeves and get involved, there is no better form of spiritual discipleship, no better way to grow spiritually than to serve.
I leave you today with Paul’s words…
Philippians 2:1 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care — 2 then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. 3 Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. 4 Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. 5 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. 6 He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. 7 Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 8 Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death — and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. MSG