(Adapted from the sermon, A Living Thanksgiving)
“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”Job 1:21 (NLT)
One of the possible reasons that prevented the nine lepers from returning to thank Jesus was entitlement. They might have felt that they deserved to be healed, that Jesus owed them something, that they had a right to their health and happiness. They might have forgotten that everything they had was a gift from God, not a reward for their merit or a result of their effort. They might have taken their healing for granted, as if it was something they could claim or demand.
Entitlement is a dangerous attitude that can rob us of gratitude and joy. It can make us blind to the blessings that God gives us every day, and make us complain when things don’t go our way. It can make us selfish, greedy, and ungrateful, and make us ignore the needs of others. It can make us forget that we are dependent on God, and make us rely on ourselves or on other things.
How can we overcome entitlement and cultivate a heart of gratitude? One way is to follow the example of Job, who faced unimaginable losses and trials in his life. He lost his children, his wealth, his health, and his reputation. He was accused by his friends of being a sinner and a hypocrite. He was tempted by his wife to curse God and die. Yet he did not give in to despair or bitterness. He did not blame God or question His justice. He did not claim that he deserved better or that God owed him anything. Instead, he praised God and acknowledged His sovereignty. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
Job recognized that everything he had was a gift from God, and that God had the right to give and take away as He pleased. He did not base his gratitude on his circumstances, but on his relationship with God. He trusted that God was good and faithful, even when he did not understand His ways. He humbled himself before God and submitted to His will. He did not let his losses define him, but let God refine him.
- How do you identify and deal with entitlement in your life? What are some signs that you might have a sense of entitlement?
- How do you respond when you face challenges, disappointments, or losses? Do you complain, blame, or question God? Or do you praise, trust, and submit to God?
- How do you remind yourself that everything you have is a gift from God, and that He is the source of your joy and peace?
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Think of a situation in your life where you might have felt entitled to something, such as a promotion, a recognition, a relationship, or a possession. How did you react when you did not get what you wanted or expected? Did you feel angry, resentful, or bitter? Did you blame God or others for your situation? Did you lose sight of what you already had? Ask God to forgive you for your entitlement and to help you to be grateful for His gifts. Thank Him for what He has given you and what He has taken away. Praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness.
LOVE IN ACTION: Think of someone who has given you something that you did not deserve or expect, such as a favor, a compliment, a forgiveness, or a grace. How did you respond to their generosity? Did you thank them sincerely and genuinely? Did you appreciate their kindness and care? Did you reciprocate their gesture or pay it forward? Show them your gratitude by doing something kind for them, such as giving them a gift, a card, a compliment, or a hug. Let them know how much they mean to you and how they have made a difference in your life.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for your amazing grace and love. Thank you for giving me everything I need and more. Forgive me for my entitlement and ingratitude. Help me to overcome them and to cultivate a heart of gratitude. Help me to praise you in every situation and to trust you in every circumstance. Help me to live a life of thanksgiving, not just on one day, but every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.