Do you feel like you are not getting everything you deserve out of life? May I gently submit to you that this tendency in you and me is the blight of our age-a hypersensitivity to our rights at the expense of our responsibilities. I recently revisited the life and writings of Elisabeth Elliot, a highly-impactful missionary, author, and speaker of the previous century. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Auca of eastern Ecuador. She later spent two years as a missionary to the very tribe members who killed her husband. This dear saint, who went home to be with the Lord in 2015, lets us in on the secret to how real, average people persist in walking with/serving Jesus through the gut-wrenching bumps and bruises of this fallen world.
She submits that we must surrender our sense of entitlement to the following rights:
- The right to take revenge (Ro. 12:19-20)
- The right to have a comfortable, secure home (Lu. 9:57–58)
- The right to a good reputation (Mt. 5:11)
- The right to spend money however we please (Mt. 6:19–21)
- The right to hate an enemy (Mt. 5:43–47)
- The right to be honored and served (Mk. 10:42–45)
- The right to understand God’s plan before we obey him (He. 11:8)
- The right to live by our own rules (Jn. 14:23–24)
- The right to hold a grudge (Co. 3:13)
- The right to complain (Ph. 2:14, 1 Th. 5:18)
- The right to put self first (Ph. 2:3–4)
- The right to express one’s sexuality freely (1 Co. 6:18–20)
- The right to rebel against authority (1 Pe. 2:13–15)
Could much of our prolonged anguish and resentment have less to do with the imposed pain outside of our control and more to do with our INSISTED-ON PRIDE…that we have certain rights?
John White writes, “It is essential that we respond with trust in the mercy and goodness of God. No bitterness or rebellion must be permitted to cloud your vision of him even when he seems not to answer. Otherwise the pain designed to enrich and deepen your relationship with him might have the opposite effect as you allow yourself the luxuries of self-pity and doubt.”
The key to any vexation of spirit or emotional dysfunction you currently feel is tracing it back to the “entitled right” you are holding onto with all of your desperate might. Would you choose, instead, to offer it up to the only One who can redeem it? Our Savior modeled for us the mindset we, despite what may come, are to have as His followers:
Ph 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Elisabeth Elliot, “Laying Down Our Rights,” The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter (July/August 2002), 3.