Did you hear about the small riot that took place in a retail clothing store in Columbus earlier today?
A woman in a stretch limo arrived at a Burlington Coat Factory location and upon entering the store loudly announced that she’d just won the lottery and would pay for all customer’s purchases up to $500.oo each!
Obviously people became excited, clothes flew off the racks, and thousands of dollars in purchases were made as this lottery-winning woman watched.
There was just one problem … the lucky lady who’d made the announcement was a liar – she didn’t have any money, and before long the customers noticed she wasn’t actually paying for anyone’s new clothes.
You would think that the customers who’d been taken in by this woman would be upset, and they were, but instead of putting the clothes back like civilized human beings, the steamed customers threw a collective temper tantrum and tore the store apart looting.
Can you hear them? “This stuff is MINE! I DESERVE this!”
I feel sorry for the store employees – they didn’t ask for this to happen to them.
What a bunch of animals … right?
It’s easy to look down my nose at these people and say to myself that I’m more well-behaved than they are. I mean, come on – I wouldn’t be caught dead looting, much less alive.
But on further introspection, I realize I suffer from the same bad attitude underlying the ridiculous actions of this group of fools.
That, my friends, is an attitude of entitlement.
Wikipedia defines entitlement as “the guarantee of access to benefits because of rights” and a “belief that one is deserving of some particular reward or benefit.”
If a person has a “sense of entitlement,” they believe they deserve certain things, if, for no other reason, than they exist.
You may struggle with this too not even realizing it, and I’ll tell you why: we live in a culture driven by this attitude of entitlement.
Consider how our country was founded. Certain inalienable rights are free to all men and women. We’re all equal – we’re all to be taken care of – we’re all deserving of only the best. This isn’t all bad – don’t get me wrong. I do believe human beings should take care of one another as that’s what God desires us to do … it’s this ‘deserving’ part I have a problem with. What do we really deserve when you get down to it?
Further consider: in the western world, we’re bombarded day after day with messages regarding our right to do this or that, say this or that, own this or that, have this or that taken care of for us … because we DESERVE it.
If you don’t believe me, watch an hour of television tonight and count the number of messages you pick up that feed into your sense of entitlement. Thumb through any major magazine or newspaper … if you haven’t looked for it before, you may be surprised to learn how desensitized you are to these messages for the same reason a fish doesn’t know it’s wet until it jumps out of the ocean onto the beach.
Our people live in the shadow of the tree of entitlement, and the bitter seed of self-centeredness and selfish pride is at its root daily being watered by popular culture. This tree produces bad fruit: that of the sin of Eve found in Genesis 3.
I believe there are a few healthy questions we Christians need to ask ourselves:
- As a follower of Jesus, how can I get over my own pride and self-centeredness?
- As a follower of Jesus making more followers of Jesus, how can I help others get over their pride and self-centeredness?
Just thinking out loud here tonight – you’re welcome to do a bit of thinking with me.
Here’s the full story on the clothing store riot, and here’s a video summary: