Entitlement. The “I deserve it” attitude: I deserve love. I deserve peace. I deserve comfort. I deserve an easier life. I deserve more help. I deserve happiness. I deserve it and I want it now.
No other quality so marks today’s culture. And no other quality so quickly destroys the attitude of gratitude we’ve been learning to purposefully choose during this study of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy.
Do you see remnants of entitlement surface in your life from time to time? I know I do. During this past week, I’ve faced a daily battle to not give place to this destructive attitude that is so prevalent in our society. After accomplishing some major steps last week toward bringing closure to this season of loss after the November death of our son, I had high expectations that this week would be different, as we began moving forward into the future God is preparing our family for.
Instead, this has been another difficult week. I faced another outbreak of the stress-related hives that begin in early December that has made me miserable physically. Now that the medical equipment and supplies were no longer blocking my access to David’s room, it was time to start sorting through all of his personal things, which was difficult emotionally. Instead of the hoped for closure, it’s just seemed like more of the same trials. I’ve battled such thoughts as “I deserve an easier life,” and “I’m tired of waiting for _ _ _ _ to be done,” and even “it’s not fair that the rest of my family gets to eat this dessert but I can’t without blowing my diet.”
To choose an attitude of gratitude often begins by kicking an attitude of entitlement out of our lives. So how do we get over an “I deserve it” attitude? By recognizing God has already given us more that we could ever ask or imagine. and humbly thanking Him for His amazing goodness toward us as His adopted children. Humble gratefulness toward God and the people He has placed in our lives is the key to overcoming an attitude of entitlement.
The chapter we are reading this week in our study of this book on the grace of gratitude is filled with some practical ways of putting to death an attitude of entitlement and replacing it with a true spirit of gratitude. True gratitude is so much more than walking through the motions or completing a list of things we feel obligated to do. Genuine gratitude is the natural outflow of a truly grateful heart. It is a change of lifestyle.
So how do we cultivate a heart and lifestyle of gratitude? What are some practical ways to turn away from a heart rooted in entitlement and develop a heart and lifestyle of gratitude? Nancy lists several in this chapter.
- Speak it aloud. Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Gratitude “begs to be expressed, both to God and to others.” Or as author Gladys Berthe Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.“ Spoken words of thankfulness have the power to dissipate a spirit of heaviness in the lives of those around us (Isaiah 61:3).
- Sing it out. “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” (Psalms 30:4) Whether you have natural musical talent or the best you can do is “make a joyful noise to the Lord” (Psalm 98:4), music is a powerful means of expressing gratitude to God for His goodness to us.
- Kneel down. “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:6) Kneeling before God symbolizes worship and honor to God. Kneeling during prayer or worship is a sign of humility, by it we humble ourselves before Him and recognize Him as Lord. Romans 14:11 says the time will come when, “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” As believers in Christ, we are encouraged to do that now as a part of our gratitude to God.
- Privately and publicly. “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.” (Psalm 57:9) Gratitude should be expressed everywhere, and at every opportunity, both privately before the Lord and publicly before others.
- When and where. Just as the ways to express gratitude are varied, the times and places where it is appropriate are unlimited. While definitely a part of celebrations and holidays (“holy days” or even secular holidays), each day presents us with opportunities for giving thanks. 1 Chronicles 23:30 says praise and giving thanks are to be offered every morning and at evening. Daniel taught by example the discipline of giving thanks three times a day. Psalm 119:62 says, “At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.” And to make sure we know that gratefulness and praise are always appropriate, Psalm 34 begins with these words, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”