Following on briefly today from yesterday’s post on why bad things happen. (If you came here for that post, welcome!) I touched on the fact that God isn’t fair, and it is a good thing for us that He isn’t, or we would get what we deserve. I ran into this comment this morning:
I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education.
Tim Challies wrote that yesterday in his comments on the entitlement mindset that pervades Western societies. He’s writing with an American focus, but if anything, the entitlement thinking is even stronger here in Britain. The entire article is worth reading, but here’s another excerpt to get you started:
It hurts marriages by putting the focus on “What can I get from him/her?” rather than “What can I give?” It hurts charity because the rich leave it to the government and withdraw from contact with the poor; the poor just get handouts from an impersonal, faceless, soulless State rather than from real caring people. Above all, a sense of entitlement destroys the Christian life.
As a Christian, I believe in one entitlement.
I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace.
I’ll just add one thing, because although Pastor Challies implied it, he did not explicitly state it:
An Entitlement Mentality Kills Gratitude
You aren’t properly grateful for things given to you
if you think you deserved them
Update: I said Pastor Challies is writing with an American focus, but I should clarify. He is a pastor in Canada, but is quoting American sources. What he says applies everywhere, of course.
Update Again: Please see the excellent comment below by John Wesley (that John Wesley? :)) about God’s justice in forgiving and justifying us.
I agree with you that we are all all deserving of God’s wrath in eternal punishment. Further, I agree with you that feeling like we are entitled to anything delivers a death blow to our gratitude. However, I want to caution you against assuming that “God isn’t fair.” I haven’t yet read your previous article where you came to this conclusion, so please correct me if my assessment of your premise is incorrect. I would argue that God is in fact fair. The entire point of Romans 3:26 is that God is just (fair) to redeem sinners by being the justifier of them through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Sure we deserved hell and we are not entitled to God’s salvation, but that doesn’t make God unfair in providing it to us. He poured out his wrath upon his Son so that it would be fair. [See also Matt. 20:1-16] The truth is that God is fair, but he also gives favors to people, “shall he not do what he pleases with what is his?” (paraphrase) When we are tempted to think something is unfair, we are in fact displaying our own discontented hearts thinking that we are in fact entitled to something we are not.
Thank you for an excellent comment. You are, of course, correct. I would add I John 1:9, which tells us that God is just to forgive. I’m actually writing about that in a draft for a coming post, so I had to laugh at myself a little when you pointed it out.
In the prior post, I said that it “was so ‘unfair’ for God to love us that much.” I think I’ll stand by that assertion. But certainly, you are correct that we should never speak as if God is unjust, and we should shout it to the heavens and proclaim it to the world — the price which was paid on the Cross was sufficient! This post, standing on its own, is lacking on that point. (I’ve added an update).
Thank you again for an excellent comment.