I was following along with a conversation on a friend’s website about entitlement the other day. And I began to recognise something that has been changing in me without me being fuly cognizant of it: I’m becoming aware that there is more (and more) “rubbish” in my heart, and I need help taking out the trash.

What’s all this rubbish I’ve been recognizing? (You need to pronounce rubbish with a British accent to fully enjoy it.) Well, among other things, I’m specifically aware of an entitlement attitude. A mindset that makes me feel sorry for myself (Self Pity is a Dangerous Bedfellow!) when things don’t go the way I think I deserve for them to go. Let me help you out, with actual, personal examples.

I might do think to myself:

“I’ve been praying and asking for this particular thing for ages. It isn’t something that costs very much money. I haven’t been spending much on anything else — in fact, I’ve been very careful with our budget. Why don’t I have what I’ve been praying for?”

“I really wish we had just a little extra cashflow just to be able to eat out or treat ourselves a bit more every once in a while. I mean, we work so hard — don’t we deserve it?”

These are just a couple of surface examples of a deeper issue that is very ingrained in my western, rights-mentality mindset. If I can justify in my mind why I deserve it, then indeed, it is so, and I deserve it.

But here’s the issue.

I am suddenly faced with the reality of the millions of people a stone’s throw (okay a couple miles) away from me who live in poverty. And I mean dirt floor, corrugated tin wall and roof, cooking on an open fire and making about $12 for a good day’s work poverty. Suddenly, now it’s a reality and not just pictures on TV of emaciated children with distended bellies and flies all around who almost make you not want to act because you don’t see any hope in it. Now I see these relatively healthy adults, mothers my age with children the Bear’s age, caught in a web where lack of education, disease, hunger and a number of other circumstances combine to keep advancement and hope for the future just out of reach. And now some new questions come to mind when this entitlement mentality rears its ugly head.

Do you deserve? But wouldn’t that mean they deserve too?

Have you earned it? Or have the opportunities and privileges of your life made it possible?

It would just make things easier? Think about all the things you take for granted that would make it “easier” for someone else. (Like owning a car…a home in a secure area…even a dishwasher!)

Eventually I find myself aware that once again, there is rubbish in my heart. There are attitudes that need correction. There is trash that needs collection.

And the gracious God who has indeed blessed me exceeding and abundantly is willing to look in, forgive me, and even help me take out the trash.

I suddenly see that the biggest gift I’ve received so far in looking to the eyes of people who have so little is the realisation that I already have so, so much.

Much more than I need.

Much, much more than I deserve.

I am undeserving of the free grace, the free gift of Jesus. I’m undeserving of all that I have in addition.

And that realisation is leading me to a mentality of thankfulness — and Lord knows, that’s where I want to stay.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: If we can see all that we have as a gift of grace, we are better able to handle it when life as we know it isn’t our cup of tea. We might even realise instead that it’s not the exact flavour tea we were looking for, but it’s tea nonetheless. And any tea’s better than no tea at all!