Am I Entitled?
Luke 16:19-31 & James 4:13-17
Jesus tells the story of two men. One had the best of everything – he ate and dressed well and had a fine home in which to live. The other man was crippled and covered with sores. He depended upon friends or family to carry him to his place of begging each day. It just so happened that the beggar’s place was just outside the rich man’s gate. The beggar ate the scraps that were thrown into the street for the dogs.
Demonstrating that God is no respecter of persons, the two men died at about the same time. We know that the first was buried and can assume that he was arrayed in his finest attire. The beggar’s body was most likely thrown into the garbage dump at Gehenna. The beggar went to heaven – not because he was poor but because he was faithful. The rich man went to hell – not because he was rich but because he was not faithful. This is not a story about the merits of poverty or the sinfulness of riches. Instead, it teaches us about the importance of attitude in a person’s life choices.
We live in a time where most every individual believes he/she is entitled. Charles W. Bray, deputy director of the U. S. Internal Communications Agency, wrote, “We have come to a time where we say, ‘You deserve a break today.’ Too many of us believe that. If we’re poor, we deserve a break, if we’re rich we deserve a tax-break, if we are workers we deserve better fringe benefits; if our company is in trouble, we deserve a bailout; if we are a special interest group, we deserve a special hearing.”
The Pharisees believed they were entitled. They believed that wealth was an indication of special worth. That money was a sign of God’s blessing and poverty was an indication of God’s curse. Jesus repudiated that entire idea. Each of us is a steward of what we have been given and are to use our gifts to bless others. Jesus’ message was about personal responsibility before God.
James offers some very practical advice regarding how to plan for tomorrow. He tells us that we get into trouble when we begin to presume upon the will of God, when we boast of tomorrow, and when we fail to do what God’s word and will require of us.
I. The Sin of Presumption
A. We are not our own!
1. Every person (saved or not) is a steward
2. Everything we have is on loan and can be taken from us by chance or an act of God
B. There are no guarantees with life
1. It is foolish to think we can live and plan without God
2. Presumption denies who we are, who God is, and how much we need God. Life is a gift and should not be presumed upon
II. The Sin of Boasting (alazoneia – a wandering quack)
A. Our boasting is phony
1. We lay claim to more than we can deliver
2. We are each blessed according to the will of God and the accident of our birth
3. Boasting in ourselves is evil
B. We can own only one thing – our salvation – and that we owe to God
III. The Sin of Omission
A. Sin is “missing the mark” either through violation or through failure to do what is right
1. The rich man of Luke 16 failed to do what should have been obvious
2. It is never enough simply to gratify convention, we must go the extra mile
B. There are opportunities at our gates
1. The homeless and hungry
2. Points of prevention and ministry
If we do only what society requires, we fail God. To please Him, we are required to over extend our faith and resources. The faithful child of God can see beyond the surface and recognize the true needs of others. Let us plan our lives in accordance with God’s will and James’ advice.