But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? (Romans 9: 20a)
Old people say stuff like: “back when I was young, it was different”. I try not to do it myself as I grow older, but I now see the challenge that older people face. Having entered my 6th decade, I start to get a bit of an historical picture and societal changes become fairly stark. While I have seen some improvements, I have also seen some pretty disturbing changes. I was surprised to hear about a significant problem in schools where teachers are being physically abused by students. That is something that wouldn’t have happened more than once in the schools I grew up in. My wife works at a university and tells stories of students coming in with their parents to complain about marks! Are you kidding me?! I was embarrassed when my parents still came into parent-teacher interviews in high school. But probably one of the most astounding changes I have noticed is entitlement. For some reason people think they are entitled to everything. I am entitled to the same pay (economic realities apparently don’t matter). I am entitled to advanced education. I am entitled to multiple chances when I screw up (e.g. teachers must accept late assignments until the end of the year). I’m not sure where we went wrong, but we are raising a pretty narcissistic and entitled society. I have a couple of friends who volunteer coach at track & field clubs and while there are plenty of grateful people, they are shocked by the stark increase in ungrateful parents and athletes. These men, each with their own families, are devoting their free time to coaching, yet they are getting constant grief because what they are offering is not enough. Their child deserves more! The athlete them self deserves more!
This attitude of entitlement is seen no more vividly than with man’s perception of God. Few people would ever utter the words this way, but when we consider our attitude, and our words and actions, we believe God owes us something. Be honest with yourself. Do you believe God owes you something? It is very easy to fall into that trap. When we get disappointed that a prayer is not answered, or when life does not turn out as we planned, we pout, or we lash out against God. Why? Because we deserved a better outcome. God owes us better than what we have. Let’s test that attitude according to the scriptures.
In Romans 11: 33-36 Paul writes: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?’ For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” In Romans 9: 20-21 Paul asks: “But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”
The underlying problem is pride. Rather than finding our significance and satisfaction in the greatness of God, we try to find our satisfaction and significance in ourselves. When God revealed this reality to me, it was life altering. I immediately recognized that God owes me nothing. He exhibited supernatural grace when he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for MY sins. I owe him everything. Even with this recognition I have to constantly battle the tendency to slip back to an entitled heart. What does God owe you?