What do you deserve? That was the response we would give our children from time to time when they were growing up. Usually it was at a time when they were demanding something. When they felt entitled to something or were complaining about something they had.
They knew the answer to the question, ‘what do you deserve?’ The answer, was ‘nothing’. When they stayed at a friends’ house and got a couch rather than a bed, they were learning to be grateful they had something to sleep on rather complain they didn’t have a bed. When they were offered a meal, rather than complain it
wasn’t all they wanted they were learning to appreciate the effort and care someone had made to provide a meal.
They were learning that life is a gift.
One of the challenges we face in our culture is that we feel entitled. We have been taught that whatever we want we should get. It is our right and all too often we end up maligning anyone who we believe stops us getting what is our right.
Jesus faced entitlement in his own culture. On one occasion when he was dining at the house of a prominent Pharisee, Jesus noticed how people clamoured for the places of honour. In response, He told them a parable of a wedding feast where the hero of story was not the one who took a seat of honour, but rather the one who demonstrated humility by taking the least important place. In the parable the ones who felt entitled were humiliated and those who took a posture of humility were rewarded.
Jesus finished the parable with the words, ‘for all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’. The way of Jesus is counter cultural. It resists the pull of entitlement and takes a posture of servanthood and humility.
Life is a gift. Jesus invites us to see it this way and to enjoy what we have. Rather than be concerned with what we feel we deserve, thank God for what we do.