When my daughter was a toddler I would give her a gift or buy her a toy when we went out. She was just amazed and so thankful as we purchased the toy and took it home. It brought such great joy to give her anything. She would throw her arms up and hug me and it made me want to give her more. She loved the gift, but she also recognized where it came from.
Then there came a day when we were shopping and she found a toy and threw it up on the conveyer belt and said, “I want this!” Wow! This was a different response than I was used to. There was no request, only a demand. The thankful heart that was so delightful had quickly changed to an entitled heart. OH NO YOU DON’T! As you can guess the toy went back on the shelf and did not come home with us. It was time for a lesson on a thankful heart, not an entitled one.
I wonder if God feels this way sometimes. I wonder if we are so focused on the gifts that we forsake the gift giver. We know God delights in His children and He loves us enough to give us the greatest gift of salvation. But do we live our lives with a thankful heart acknowledging the gift giver or with an entitled heart that focuses on the gift and the receiver?
It is very easy for us to shift our prayer life from praying God’s will to be done and giving thanks for all He gives to, “Why God did you keep something from me?” or “Why God did you let this happen?” We don’t even realize we have jumped down the slippery slope of entitlement.
In our world today, entitlement seems to creep its ugly head into our everyday lives. It can destroy relationships, put walls up with those around us, and can build a barrier in our relationship with God.
When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness, they ran out of food and God so graciously gave them manna from heaven. It was enough food to meet their everyday needs and guess what? There was a brand-new supply the next day. They didn’t have to cook anything! They had their own personal chef! What else could they possibly want? Their grateful heart quickly became an entitled heart. They got tired of the gift and wanted something else. They wanted and felt they deserved something other than what God was giving. They grumbled and complained about the gift and totally forgot about the heart of the gift giver.
How do we fight this entitled heart? We have to be intentional every day. We have to acknowledge the gift, but more importantly, acknowledge the gift giver. We have to wake up giving praise to the gift giver, God for who He is. We then have to be willing to take the gift that He chooses to give, and graciously trust when He withholds the gift we think we deserve.
We have to surrender to the fact that God really does know more and that He gives because He loves a cheerful heart, a thankful heart. As Christmas approaches, let’s not only give thanks for the things we have been given but for the ONE who gave them to us.
“God loves a cheerful giver, give it all you’ve got. He loves to see us happy when we’re in an awful spot, so when the odds are up against you and you cannot do a thing, praise God, to praise Him is a joyous thing.“ Song and Lyrics by Robert D. Murray
Tecia Farmer Janes is the Founder/Director of Choosing Him Ministries in Newnan, Georgia, which seeks to serve women in a way that brings God’s Truth into their everyday lives.
Tecia is a wife to Russ and mother to two children, Matthew and Olivia. She is a speaker and a published author. She was born and raised in South Atlanta in a godly home. Tecia accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior at age seven, but it was at the age of eighteen when God grabbed her heart and became her lifeline in the midst of a family tragedy and health problems. Her constant prayer was that God would use every experience in her life, good and bad, for His glory.