What’s That Smell?

Many speak of the sense of entitlement that the rich or certain politically leaning parties seem to have (both of the big ones). Rarely do we see this in ourselves. I’m not just speaking of entitlement due to belonging to a certain class or because we are Americans, but because we have worked hard and earned what we have. Some of us even feel entitled because we are serious about our spirituality and Christian walk. Entitlement is not something we “feel”. It’s something we live out. If you aren’t sure if you have ever acted as if you are entitled to anything, then it’s even more likely that you have. Let’s wake up and smell our entitlement!

Rather than taking ourselves too seriously, we have to laugh at our own foolishness in this area. There is sin that is common unto man, and this is only one of many. I think it’s important to be more self-aware of our sinful nature, so that we can do something about it, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist in us. A little grieving is healthy. A lot of guilt is not. As Paul puts it, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 (ESV) Salvation does not eradicate sin in our lives. It gives us the power to see it for what it is and be free of it through Christ. This is not cut and dried. It is the journey of faith. Scripture actually calls it a fight.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

1 Timothy 6:11, 12 (NIV)

Just confessing in front of believers that you are a follower of Christ isn’t enough. You have to fight. Fighting isn’t a pleasant thing. It involves sweat, aggression and usually some blood. Personally I don’t enjoy fighting at all. I feel more like a lover, than a fighter. LOL.

BUT, there it is. If we want to follow Jesus, we have to get in the fight against our sin nature so that the Spirit can rule in us. Part of this fight is coming against our tendency to take our blessings for granted and see ourselves as entitled to such treasures. Treasures like hope, love, peace of heart and mind. Obviously, we didn’t earn this booty by choosing Christ. He offered it to us despite ourselves, because of the sacrifice of the only one entitled to anything, Christ, the perfect one.

Jesus puts his finger on our entitled tendencies with this parable,

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Substitute the fasting and tithing part with your own good works, since most of us Christians don’t do either one of those things nowadays anyway. (ouch) “I go to church. I don’t watch porn. I raise my hands during worship. I don’t cheat on my taxes.”= I’m a good person.

I love the wording in this verse, “confident of their own righteousness”. It sounds like Jesus wants us to feel more secure in his righteousness and less impressed with our own. It’s tough to embrace our own weaknesses because we don’t want to accept ourselves as such. Personally, I find my faults and flaws to be deplorable. I consider my character many times to be rude, crude and spiritually unacceptable. After twenty-nine years of following Jesus, I have to shake my head at my thought patterns and even more so at my actions which are wicked, sinful and ridiculous. Time for some humble pie and vigorous breastbeating I guess.

I am not mortified by myself. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the unconditional love and constant forgiveness that washes over me from God. I deserve nothing and get everything. He keeps cleaning me up and as a result I smell a lot better.

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