The Spirit That's Taking Over Our Nation—And It's Not Jezebel

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John Burton dealt with entitled people recently while on an airplane.
John Burton dealt with entitled people recently while on an airplane. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

It's time to repent for a spirit of entitlement that is destroying our testimony.

entitlement 
noun en·ti·tle·ment:

the condition of having a right to have, do or get something
the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges)

In a self-centered, narcissistic world, one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix, as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.

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"Let nothing be done out of strife or conceit, but in humility let each esteem the other better than himself. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you all, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. But He emptied Himself, taking upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the form of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:3-8).

Attitudes of entitlement have overwhelmed so many and it is actually a clear manifestation of the enemy. His character is defined by selfish ambition. Lucifer presumed it was his right, his portion, to be exalted.

"How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the recesses of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High" (Is. 14:12-14).

Lucifer desired to be lifted high while Christ went low, to the grave, in the greatest act of service history has ever known. Our invitation is to serve and give ourselves for others just as Christ did.

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

A Simple Evil Desire

"'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being" (1 Cor. 10:23-24).

We can presume we are entitled to something because it seems right. If other people stand in the way of what is rightfully ours, we might presume we have the right to obtain it—even at the cost of others. It might be lawful for us, but is it helpful? Does our pursuit of that build others up?

Understand, I'm not saying we roll over and become doormats. This is a heart issue.

When in Orlando recently, my wife and I had the worst experience with a hotel we've ever had in our 20 years of marriage. In fact, this was a celebration of our 20-year anniversary and the room met us with scurrying roaches and hairs in the bed. We had prepaid for four nights, yet we absolutely were not going to stay there. The short version of our long drama was that the hotel only agreed to refund three of the four nights because we had checked in the first night. That was astonishing to us! We didn't spend more than a couple of minutes in that roach infested hotel room!

So, we absolutely believe it's lawful for us to receive our first night's money back since we had to find another hotel to stay in that night. We made some phone calls and dealt with several people, but we continually had a heart check. We refused to cross the line that would have compromised our testimony. It's better to lose some money than to put people's eternities at risk.

We didn't want to function in a spirit of entitlement. We wanted to do our due diligence, to honor those we were dealing with and to represent Christ as powerfully as we could. In a way we were being "cursed" and we wanted to bless those who were giving us trouble. Again, it's a heart issue. It is possible to deal with significant violations of what is right if we learn how to handle the small problems with the right attitude. There's no room for entitlement whether it's a minor grievance or a major assault against us.

Entitlement is usually a simple, subtle desire or expectation that we don't give much thought to. This is why it's so important to allow God to search our hearts and to reveal selfish motives, attitudes and issues that bring forth death instead of life.

Entitlement puts us on the throne as others are scrutinized and ridiculed if they don't measure up. This is an anti-Christ spirit and we have to allow the Holy Spirit reveal that deadly heart issue to us. We must endeavor to consider others more important than ourselves. We must go low.

An Emergency in Haiti

On a recent ministry trip to Haiti, mere minutes after I preached my final sermon of the 10-day trip, I suddenly came down with an extremely high fever and an unbearable pain in my lower right abdomen. I didn't realize it at the time but I later discovered that I was hours away from my appendix bursting—far away from the familiarity of home and the medical care that I was most comfortable with.

A few hours later, I was on a flight from Port Au Prince to Atlanta—possibly the worst three hours of my life. By the grace of God, for the first time in many years I was able to sit in first class. This minor perk was so appreciated. I must have been a sight to behold as I turned down the free meals and constant attention of the flight attendant. I was curled up almost in the fetal position with blankets covering me as I futilely attempted to get warm. My temperature must have been over 104 degrees.

The pain in my right side was off the charts. I had to unbuckle my belt under the blanket just for the slightest relief from the pain. I was convinced I would need to have the attendant radio ahead to Atlanta to have medics ready for my arrival.

As I shook from chills attempting to find the slightest relief someone tapped me on the shoulder. The person behind me demanded that I put my seat back up so they could be more comfortable.

This was also a first-class passenger who had probably paid a lot more for the flight than I did (I found a ridiculous deal that was cheaper than coach). He was entitled to all the comfort he could muster, right?

Now, the reason I'm sharing this story is not to make you feel sorry for me or to get upset with the man who sat behind me. You see, a spirit of entitlement would want you to do just that!

The reason I'm sharing this is to reveal how simple it was for me to reject a spirit of entitlement and to serve the man in the first class seat behind me. Did I deserve to have the seat lean back a few inches? After all, I was in the midst of a medical emergency. That didn't matter. If Jesus can be slaughtered by and for evil people, surely I could put my seat up. It really was quite easy! I simply had to choose to love a stranger more than myself.

"Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining" (1 Pet. 4:8-9).

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