The proposition is often in our thoughts, if not verbally flowing from our lips, that we, as God's children, have certain inalienable rights. Those of us who have been involved in ministry for some time are especially prone to feel that we've "paid our dues," we've done our share of suffering and sacrificing. Now it's time for others to carry the load, to pay the price for effective service. "Let the younger men and women develop a few battle scars of their own. We've been there and done that" becomes our attitude.
Popular preaching of the day feeds this type of thinking. The airwaves are filled with the health and wealth prophets (or is it "profits") who boldly proclaim that we have a right to claim (even demand) perfect health and prosperity from the Lord God of the universe. We are told these dual blessings are birthrights of the child of God. Health and prosperity are part of the salvation package, supposedly purchased for us by Christ when He died on Calvary.
As such unbiblical nonsense filters down to the sincere Christian servant who is rather lacking in this world's goods, or who is severely suffering from some physical malady, he begins to entertain the unthinkable. Though it may be worded differently, the subtle and devilish thought process slowly develops until it fully blossoms into the very warped and self-centered view that God owes me!
The more we've gone without or suffered personally because of our service to the Lord, the more vulnerable we may be to such intellectually weak and spiritually damaging propaganda. God owes me? Do I dare think that because of a few short years in which I may be inconvenienced in this life that God is indebted to me; that I have somehow earned the right to claim special privileges from Him?
I once heard a Christian leader pray, "Lord if I have earned any favors from You over the years, I now ask You to…" Such thinking is replete with prideful arrogance, and is totally lacking in a proper understanding of both God's grace or the believer's duty, or both. Jesus, who certainly knows the truth about this matter, said:
Do we who believe in Christ have any rights at all? Yes, indeed we do, but those "rights" may not be what we normally would want to embrace. The biblical rights of true believers in Christ can be categorized as both spiritual and physical and, depending on how you view them, may be seen as either positive or negative.
The right to be children of God
The right to call God our Father
The right to every spiritual blessing
The right to acceptance by God
The right to redemption and the forgiveness of sins
The right to be given salvation as a present possession
The right to a God-planned life
The right to be bold in our approach to God
The list of spiritual rights could go on and on, but also notice our physical rights.
The right to suffer for the Lord's sake
The right to severe trials
The right to be persecuted for godly living
The right to the way out of every testing and trial
The right to God's strength in every trial
The right to know that everything endured for Him will be amply repaid
Why We Question God
I don't know how it is with you, but I sometimes find myself feeling left out, overlooked, or lacking. It always happens when I compare myself to others. When I look around me it seems almost everyone has more than I do. Pride and self-pity can easily gain the upper hand in my thinking. Covetousness begins to rule the roost and dissatisfaction with what God has prepared for me quickly develops. When I look within the pages of Scripture I also notice how many of God's choicest servants were abundantly blessed in material ways: Abraham, Moses, Job, Joseph, David, Solomon. It's logical to think, "Why not me? I like nice clothes, new cars, comfortable-to-luxurious houses." Such self-centered thinking is just one little step away from: "Look how faithful I've been Lord; more so than Brother Live-for-Self down the street. Surely I deserve more or better. You owe me, Lord!"
The Only Proper Attitude
God led Paul to write:
And Jesus said:
Then God led the writer of Hebrews to record:
One of my favorite passages concerns the time after His resurrection when Jesus met with the disciples on the shore, cooked fish for them, and reassured Peter that all was well. After asking Peter three times if he loved Him, Jesus then gave the simple, reassuring command, "Follow me." And what was Peter's reaction?
If I want to enjoy the ultimate blessings of God upon my life in serving Him, it doesn't really matter what God's plan is for someone else. It only matters that I fulfill His purpose for me. If in doing His will I have abundance or if I suffer great loss, that is secondary to fulfilling His eternal plan for my existence. Invariably we stray from God's perfect plan for us as we lose our focus upon Him and the Great Commission to carry the gospel to the entire world, making disciples of those we win. Even while being involved in "ministry" we may easily get sidetracked by maneuvering people and situations so as to guarantee our own security or well-being.
What will it take, dear child of God, for us to fully and completely cut loose of our earthly ties — our fleshly security blankets — to be that man or woman who is totally given over to His will?