Friday, February 8, 2013

The Spirit of Entitlement

The Spirit of Entitlement


So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him.” – Judges 9:4

Gideon was both a lover and a fighter.  He had SEVENTY sons by his many wives.  But Gideon also had one son, Abimelech, who was the son of his concubine.  The children of a concubine did not have an inheritance from their father, whereas children of wives did.  But Abimelech had a spirit of entitlement about him.  This was very different from the character of his father Gideon, and his seventy step-brothers.
When the people of Israel wanted to make Gideon king, after he had defeated their enemy the Midianites, his reply was “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”(Judges 8:23).  Gideon had humility and respect for God and he taught it to his sons.  Even after Gideon died, his sons did not try to rule over Israel, as their father had already said they would not.    

But along comes Abimelech.  There was no humility in him.  He had a sense of entitlement to rule over Israel in spite of Gideon’s command and his illegitimacy.  He had no legal inheritance from Gideon, but realized that the seventy legitimate sons of Gideon did.  Even though the seventy sons of Gideon had no plans to rule over Israel, Abimelech felt threatened that they would.  His illegitimacy created fear within him, and fueled his spirit of entitlement. 
Abimelech went to his mother and told her to speak to her brothers and tell them to talk to the men of their city, Shechem, and say, “‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal [Gideon] reign over you, or that one reign over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and bone.”(Judges 9:2) It was a political campaign based on fear.  Seventy men ruling over the city would have been chaos.  And as most political campaigns go, Abimelech, having nothing good to offer of himself, sought to win based on his being the lessor of two evils.  It was a successful campaign, and they decided to make him their ruler.

His rule over them was seeped in evil from the beginning.  They funded his leadership with “seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith”, money founded in idolatry.  With it Abimelech hired and surrounded himself with “worthless and reckless men”.  And his first act of business was evident of the evil within Abimelech as he captured and killed 69 of the sons of Gideon on the same stone. His intent was to kill all that were legitimate sons, yet he missed one.
Good seed produces a good crop.  But if you sow thorns, you harvest the pain of thorns.  Abimelech’s evil didn’t stop at killing Gideon’s sons.  In the end, Abimelech killed all the people of Shechem, and sowed the town with salt so that it would grow nothing and become worthless land.

A spirit of entitlement says “You have it, I deserve it, therefore it’s mine!”  Entitlement does not seek to earn anything, but to take it.  Entitlement is based on pride and the idolatry of self-worth.
Today we see this spirit of entitlement rising up.  We see it in the flesh through those that don’t work and yet feel that we that do owe them a living.  They feel that we owe them food, shelter, money, medical coverage, and all the benefits that come with earning a living.  And when they get it, we reap the thorns.  These are worthless and reckless people with idle hands.  James 4:1-2 says “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”  Do we not see this in the society we have created? 2 Thessalonians 3:10 has a cure for this, as it says If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

Those that work have a sense of entitlement as well.  We feel entitled to higher and higher wages, and as we force wages to increase for employers to keep us, we drive away our own jobs.  Are we not sowing salt in our own fields, as we do not have enough people working to keep our economy alive? 
But even more harmful is the spirit of entitlement that is affecting us on a spiritual level.  We feel entitled to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness even when we aren’t legitimate children.  We expect God to bless us as He does His own children. 

Matthew 25:1-12 tells the story of the ten virgins, which represent people preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ.  It says “five of them were foolish and five were wise”.  The wise virgins not only brought their lamps, which represent their bodies, but also brought oil, which represents the Holy Spirit which comes to live in us when we receive salvation.  His Holy Spirit is the seal of our inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13), and makes us His legitimate children.
But the foolish virgins had a spirit of entitlement.  They had no oil, only lamps filled with a sense of entitlement.  They spoke to the wise virgins and said Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise virgins could not give them what they had, and while they went to find oil, the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, came.  And when He came, he took the five wise virgins into His chamber and shut the door.

Just as Abimelech was not a legitimate son of Gideon, those that seek to be God’s children without salvation and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit are illegitimate as well.  We are taught that we can know them by their fruits.
Examine your relationship with God.  Is it legitimate, or do you have a spirit of entitlement?  Is your fruit good, or do you produce bramble?

“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” – Galatians 4:1-7

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