In my previous article number 359 I wrote about the dangerous cocktail that results when bitterness is added to victim mentality. I also mentioned that if another particular element was added, it would form a dangerous triumvirate that could influence the thinking and consequent behaviour of many in our world today. We can now look at what that third element is. It is the Sense of Entitlement that so many people in the world today seem to have adopted as an ongoing pattern of thinking. It is bad enough of itself but when added to the other two elements it can become a mixture that is quite explosive in human relationships.
First of all what is a sense of entitlement? On the Psychology Today website it was described as being an enduring personality trait, characterized by the belief that one deserves preferences and resources that others do not. It may appear sometimes that some folk are certainly “entitled” to have a sense of entitlement, because they have sacrificed a lot in becoming more learned or more skilled or have become more committed than others in their desire to make a greater personal contribution to the world.
Unfortunately however, others with a sense of entitlement expect to receive more recognition or rewards than they appear [humanly speaking] to be “entitled” to. Especially when they see themselves as victims of some external factor or factors, eg.,when they say something like, “Because of my background, I missed out on that, so I am entitled to have it now.” If they have harboured resentment about having missed out on something and have become bitter about it, then the added sense of entitlement creates a deadly mixture or a negatively powerful triumvirate. That was seen recently in the USA where one activist virtually advocated looting with her reasoning something like this, “You don’t have it because of your impoverished background compared with others, who can simply walk in and buy it. You can’t do that, so go and take what you want.” Some folk would see that advice as encouraging envy leading to the theft of what is not rightfully theirs. But if there are no absolutes, no rules, no guidelines, then anything goes.
Such things appear to be happening throughout the world at the moment. It is anarchy being promoted as a means of achieving a more equitable society. Just think about all the protests that are going on in the world today. Many of them have leaders with an apparently good motivation and are seeking to bring about desirable change to correct known injustices. But not all. Many of them seem to be led by people who are targeting groups who believe themselves to be disadvantaged, and trying to bring about change by force rather than by reason and peaceful means. Where is the wisdom in all this?
Fortunately the Lord has shown us in His word what is true wisdom and what is not. The following table show us what is God’s wisdom for how the world and its peoples should operate, contrasted with so-called wisdom that is entirely different and counterproductive for humankind. It is found in the Epistle of James chapter 3, verses 13 to 18. [Reading across from left to right.]
|GOD’S WISDOM||HUMAN WISDOM|
|Jas 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.
[True wisdom is meek because it depends on the mind of Another, God Himself. James had already written about that in James 1:21, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Any revelation from God has to be received with humility for we cannot obtain that truth of ourselves.
|On this side we have the characteristics of human wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
· Bitter jealousy. “Bitter” is pikron, πικρὸν which I have shown elsewhere is the root of picric acid, one of the most bitter, unstable and explosive compounds in chemistry.
Jealousy [zēlos; ζῆλος] is bad enough of itself but when bitterness is added to it, it becomes a deadly mixture destroying human relationships and rational thinking.
· Selfish ambition. [eritheia; ἐριθείαν] means putting ourselves and our own desires and interests ahead of the interests of others. It can mean pursuing our own agenda to the detriment of other people. In Gal 5:20, it is seen as one of the works of the flesh [fallen human nature] together with jealousy.
· boasting. katakauchaomai; κατακαυχᾶσθε means to exaggerate our exploits or character above that of others. Putting down others by unduly exalting ourselves.
· false to the truth. pseudomai; ψεύδεσθε To deceive by telling untruths.
What a contrast this is to the peaceful uplifting wisdom of God.
|17 But the wisdom from above
· from above. [anothen; ἄνωθεν] It’s origin is in God.
· is first pure,
· then peaceable,
· open to reason,
· full of mercy and
· good fruits,
· impartial and
The above is a picture of what the world would be like if we all operated according to God’s wisdom
|15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
· Earthly. [epigeios; ἐπίγειος from the earth or the world. Its origin is from fallen human thinking and not from God’s revealed wisdom in His word.
· unspiritual. [psychikos; ψυχική means soulish, lacking any spiritual origin.
· demonic. [daimoniōdēs; δαιμονιώδης].
What a shock to discover that some so-called human wisdom may actually be demonic, having its origin in Satan rather than in the Lord. As such it is counter-productive to human welfare. As Jesus said of Satan, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Jn 10:10. Justifying looting, stealing, killing and destruction in the name of justice or in the pursuit of equality could be seen by some to be supporting what is of demonic origin. It certainly is not of God!
Jesus by contrast, operated by divine wisdom to enable people by His death and resurrection, to bring real life, abundant life, to those who would humble themselves to receive Him as Saviour and Lord, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jn 10:10. Abundant, satisfying life even while living in an imperfect world.
|Outward Expression. It is what happens when God’s wisdom is in operation in the world.
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
PEACE. A deep abiding peace. As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. “ Jn 14:27.
And a peace beyond human understanding as St Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Php 4:6-7.
|Outward Expression. It is what happens when humans turn away from God’s wisdom and try to operate by their own fallen human wisdom.
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition [see verse 14] exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
· Disorder. [akatastasia; ἀκαταστασία] It can mean commotion, confusion, instability, riots, uprisings. Paul and others endured it, 2Co 6:4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
It will be one of the signs of the end of the times, Luk 21:9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
· Vile. [phaulos; phaulos meaning wicked or evil.
· Practice. [pragma; πρᾶγμα; a deed; matter, thing, work. It is the outward expression of what we believe. True belief leads to true behaviour. Wrong belief leads to wrong behaviour. As Jesus indicated in Jn 10:10, stealing, killing and destroying is demonic behaviour. Justifying it in the name of correcting injustice is human wisdom and has nothing to do with God’s wisdom.
|As you look at what is happening in the world today which form of wisdom do you think is most observable, God’s wisdom on the left or human wisdom on the right?|
Above we have the Unholy Alliance or the Negatively Powerful Triumvirate. Bitterness being added to a Victim Mentality and then crowned with a Sense of Entitlement. In brief, “I’m bitter because I’m a victim as I don’t have what you have. As a victim I am entitled to what you have and so I will take what is rightfully mine, in my opinion, from what you have. In my case, force and theft are justified as I attempt to right this wrong!”
There are many other forms this triumvirate can take, but common to all of them is that they are all based on human wisdom, human ways of looking at situations and human ways of acting to deal with perceived inequalities and perceived unjust situations. The danger is that in seeking to do something about them, we can be tempted to act in ways that are contrary to the character of God and opposed to His purposes for His world.
Is There Another Way? Yes! God’s Way! It Is Not Only Better, But It Is The Only Way!
Jesus as the Messiah came to earth to be a victim. It had been prophesied centuries before that this would be His role as the Messiah. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” Isaiah 53:3-7.
He was the willing victim, as the sins of the world were laid on Him and He bore the punishment for those sins on behalf of sinners. But He didn’t remain the victim, as He rose from the dead, the victor over sin, death and over the powers of darkness and evil. St Paul referred to this as he encouraged his readers to be humble like Christ was in His ministry on earth, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves, 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Php 2:3-4.
St Paul highlighted Christ’s example on how to live for others
People were to have the same attitude to others as Jesus had. Was His life characterised by the powerful triumvirate of Bitterness mixed with a victim mentality and crowned with a sense of entitlement? No! Quite the opposite! Php 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
- He was a victim, but a willing victim to offer Himself for others as an atoning sacrifice for sin as part of God’s plan to save the world. Heb 9:14 ”how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
- He was not bitter but joyful as the writer to the Hebrews commented, “Jesus, … who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2.
- He had no sense of entitlement. The whole world was His as its Creator, yet He emptied Himself of all to which He was entitled, all the privileges that were His as the Son of God, and He became a servant to others, for their betterment and for their salvation. He had said of His ministry, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:45.
The power to change the world is not given by God to those who rely on the Unholy Triumvirate of Bitterness + Victim Mentality + A Sense of Entitlement based on human wisdom and which leads to inappropriate words and actions, often violent in nature. It is given to those who trust in Jesus to whom all authority is given and who has become entitled to receive the adoration, praise and obedience of every living creature, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Php 2:9-11. Only when Jesus is confessed as one’s Saviour, and submitted to as one’s Lord, is one in a position to be part of the healing processes that God sees as necessary for His world. For as James put it, “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:20.
Blog No.360. Posted on Thursday 25th June 2020