Sep 1, 2010
The opposite of confidence and worth is self-pity. Self-pity occurs when we feel we are warranted to receive but get passed by. This can occur in our natural or spiritual life. Self-pity helps define our moment or, may I say, cause us to miss our moment. We feel we are deserving or entitled to a blessing, and we lose faith when we see a blessing slip past our life.
One of the best examples of self-pity is the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda (see John 5). Jesus knew his full condition and then, through Peter, asked the man if he wished to be healed. The man began to explain why he had not and could not be healed. Jesus seemed to quit listening to his self-pity and healed him anyway.
We can easily lose sight of God’s promises when we are in difficult situations. This is often how we get off-target in seeing God fulfill our prophetic destiny. Even though the Body of Christ goes through great times of testing, we are not to grow fearful and be discouraged. The enemy takes advantage during our testing periods by using a strategy to discourage us. Discouragement breeds hope deferred, which makes the heart sick. When we have a measure of hopelessness within us, we lose our expectation of God.
“Future” and “expectation” are synonymous. Our future is linked with an expectation of God moving. This is a time for the Church to have its expectation level renewed and raised to another level. Isaiah 59 and 60 are wonderful prayer guides for us to follow to see this happen in our lives. Hope must transcend and move into faith. Faith produces overcoming. Overcoming leads to a demonstration of God’s power and a manifestation of His promises.
The Cycle of Self-Pity
Prophecy unlocks our future. But once we get wounded or experience loss, we can lose sight of our future. The biggest demonic force that we have to contend with is self-pity. Self-pity draws attention to our loss and keeps us from seeing God’s glory manifested in our life. Instead of our loss directing us to God’s continued perfect plan for our life, our self rises up and causes us to say, “Pity me for what I have lost.” Any time we experience loss, trauma, wounding or injustice, we can either choose to live with a belief system that God can heal and forgive or we can allow our mind-set to form rejection, self-defense and self-pity.
During times of loss and wounding, we have a tendency to accuse God for the trauma that we are experiencing. The power of this accusation leads to a type of fatherlessness. Instead of experiencing the spirit of adoption, we feel abandoned and lost. From our self-defense, we actually form a rebellion to authority. We also become unteachable. We have a mind-set that says, “No one understands me or what I am going through.”
We also begin to think that there is no solution to our problem. We wake up thinking, “There is no way out.” We fall into apathy because we have no hope of healing or restoration. Since we know that we should be living a godly life, religious mechanisms become a solace to us. We may even gain a martyr complex and say, “O woe is me. This is my cross to bear. Look how heavy is my cross.” This type of thinking causes us to not fight when we need to fight. Instead of fighting and advancing, we become a slave to comfort and the status quo. We forget that we are called to fellowship with Christ’s sufferings—a type of fellowship that leads to His resurrection power manifesting in us.
Losing sight of the love of God causes us to turn to self. God’s love forces us to deal with these thoughts born of our self-pity. I have experienced enough freedom in my own life to know when I am not free. Faith works by love. Once we experience God’s liberty and love, we will be able to resist that call from self to be pitied and be able to overthrow hope deferred.
Self-Pity Demands Entitlement!
Self-pity demands entitlement! When self is in control, we demand our way and our right to secure something! The opposite of embracing your portion is feeling you are entitled to a portion that you are not to have. Entitle means “to super scribe or prefix as a title. Hence, as titles are evidences of claim or property, entitle is to give a claim to, or to give a right to demand or receive.” So many families and ministries have been split because of this demon that aligns with our carnal nature. Entitlement works with self-pity and demands, “That should be mine.” Sometimes, the “that” that you are demanding, should be yours but not at the cost of you falling into fleshly ways of entitlement and like Eve, “eat of the forbidden fruit” out of time.
We have a very good friend who lives in Houston. She is one of the most gifted individuals I know. She is one who strives to press through to understand herself. Not only does she wish to know who she is, but she also wants to know why God made her and why she has problems with Him when He is seemingly quiet. Understanding why she reacts the way she does and how God reacts to her are all quests of her life. She wrote me the following when she was seeking to understand why she felt entitled:
Recently I have found myself throwing the phrase “a sense of entitlement” around quite a bit—not about myself, of course, but about others. I have been concerned about those who are dealing with that issue, and so, of course, the Lord showed me how I, too, have that in my life. (Will I never learn?) I have become interested in it, though, as I see it rearing its ugly head in my life. As a friend of mine and I were discussing the ongoing irritation of eating problems and how to handle them, he said, “It has to do with a sense of entitlement.” BINGO! I knew the minute he said it that he was onto something. Yesterday was bill-paying day, and again I wondered why managing money was so difficult for me. BAM! It hit me again: entitlement. I think I am entitled. I think I have known that in the dim recesses of my mind, but I have never looked it straight in the face. What am I entitled to? A payback.
How demonic is that! A payback? I am a child of the living God, the Bride of Christ, a child of the covenant, a friend of God. And I’m entitled to a payback? Well, of course I’m not. In fact, I should live such a life of gratitude that I say “Thank YOU” at every turn of a corner. And there are so many things that are no longer an option in this life with Christ, things we used to enjoy but no longer feel comfortable doing. Rather than covet those old things and old habits, we turn to an activity that really isn’t “wrong”—like eating. We feel entitled to do that because we can’t do these other things anymore. And so we engage until we reach a point and realize that we have overindulged and crossed a line.
Live by grace and not by law! Love does not demand its own way! Freely He gave so freely give!
Mine! Mine! Mine! The Root of our Problems in Society!
Recently, our granddaughter, Chloe, spent a week with us. We watched only two things all week: Cars and Finding Nemo. I loved them both, even the twelfth time over.
In Finding Nemo, because of his disobedience and his dad’s fear and trauma from the past, Nemo finds himself in a dangerous mess. He now ends up out of the sea in an aquarium in a dentist’s office in Sydney, Australia. His dad and a friend pursue finding him. They do unite and attempt to make their journey back to their dwelling place. However, there are seagulls all along the way—and seagulls love fish! In the movie, every time the entire flock of seagulls sees a potential morsel, or dinner, or lunch, or breakfast, they shout…”Mine, mine, mine!” and contend for the prize.
In a carnal, material world, we are much the same. We compete for the prize instead of pressing for the prize! We contend and war with each other because we think we are entitled to have what we want. Penny Jackson shared the following with me about “Entitlement.”
My situation with spending money is much the same. There is nothing inherently wrong with spending money until I cross a line and find myself in a bind. Yet at the time I am shopping, I feel completely justified in getting what I want because I sure didn’t get the things I felt I should have—life things. And so it becomes important for me to look at the matter and locate the deception in it; it’s a “mind-set” that smacks of the pit of Hell.
So what gives someone a sense of entitlement? In the United States we are born with a sense of entitlement anyway, I think, which may be the open door to this thing. We have certain expectations because of where we live and how life should be for us who live here (or so we have been led to believe). And somewhere along the line I think we have gotten the idea that we are entitled to a loving husband or wife, obedient children, and a lovely home in a tree-shaded neighborhood.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s a holdover from old black-and-white TV shows. Think Father Knows Best or Leave It to Beaver. I grew up watching The Waltons, and when my parents weren’t Olivia and John Walton, I was disappointed. Weren’t parents supposed to be that way? Yet, how could anyone live up to such a romantic, unrealistic pattern for parenthood?
So now I sit here years later with age fifty in my rearview mirror, no husband in sight, and no children at all (obedient or otherwise). My parents weren’t the Waltons, I don’t have access to unlimited funds (although ours is the wealthiest country in the world), and something deep within me works behind the scenes to convince me that I ought to be able to do whatever I want to since I didn’t get those things that were owed me. I can eat what I want if I want to because I didn’t have the blissful childhood I wanted. I can spend money irresponsibly because I don’t have a husband or kids and was supposed to have had those things, and so I deserve whatever I want that is within my power to get. Somebody owes me! It’s crazy, really, but it’s down there. And hand-in-hand with it is unreality. The world isn’t perfect, even in the United States. You are probably saying, “Duh. How could anybody really think that?” But dig down deep. See if on some level there isn’t something in you that thinks it should be and that you should have had a certain kind of life—not because of anything you have done, but just because of your existence on the planet.
We are created to live a life of praise, and yet this sense of entitlement, besides causing us to live in a mind-set of expectation rather than expectancy (two vastly different things), leads to the very antithesis of gratitude—malcontentment and ingratitude. It causes a childish cry within us that says, “How come they got that and I didn’t? It’s not fair!”
The apostle Paul said that he had learned to be content in whatsoever situation, whether abased or abounding (Philippians 4:12). And we are to give thanks in all things. I think as Christians we really do want to do that and try to do that. But I also think the Lord in His infinite mercy is allowing us (or me, at least) to get down to a lie that makes it hard to feel really grateful sometimes, even with our best intentions. And I think He is letting us see the cause of a restlessness and discontent that drives us at times for reasons we don’t understand.
If we don’t look at entitlement squarely in the face and identify it, we can’t deal with it. Until we can fall out of agreement with entitlement and unreality and know that there is a plan for us that supersedes that one we felt we “deserved” or that life owed us, we will view our circumstances through a distorted filter, at least on some level. But as we look at this honestly as the lie that it is, I think we will find such a joy and gratitude rising up within us spontaneously that our lives will never be the same because—you know what?—we serve a good God, and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts. He came to give us life, and life more abundantly—more than we can hope for or even imagine.
You know, there was another definition for entitle in my dictionary: “to qualify; to give a claim by the possession of suitable qualifications.” Through the Blood of Jesus and our acceptance of Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we are qualified and can lay claim to the wonderful promises He has given us, and these promises are “Yes and amen.” To that we are entitled. Praise God!
Previously published on The EljahList ~ www.elijahlist.com