Entitlement has been defined as “the fact of having a right to something; the amount to which a person has a right” (Apple Dictionary, Version 2.0.3). Investigating its etymology, one will find its roots in the French language and the Medieval era in reference to giving a title to a chapter or book, the bestowal of a rank or office, to give someone title to an estate or property and thereby giving that one claim to possession or privilege” (Harper, 2012). Today, the word has come to be associated with one’s sense that something is inherently owed to him or her simply because of who he or she is. For example, the idea is, “Since I am an American, since I am married, since I am an employee of this company, since I am a consumer, or since I am a member of this church….” Countless “then” statements may follow the “since” claims, but the idea is of an expectation which it is unreasonable for others to deny.
This sense of entitlement has grown through the past half century or more. Peoples of a less privileged era, like those who endured the Great Depression and World War II, operated from a different paradigm and worldview. They saw themselves more as servants and contributors, more often seeking the good of their congregation, community, family, workplace, and the like. Their focus was more on doing for others rather than having others do for them. Perhaps it was the prosperity and cultural changes that followed the aforementioned war. The last few generations have known relative peace, security, prosperity, and ease. Seemingly, this has caused a growing majority to expect such to be the norm and the deserved. Students of history know better.
So should students of the Bible. Scripture warns against being at ease such that comfort and wants become expectations (Ps. 73:12; Isa. 32:9ff; Eze. 16:49; Amos 6:1; Lk. 12:19). A “sense of entitlement” is a euphemism for self-centeredness. The entitlement culture eventually chokes its citizens to spiritual death. May we guard against approaching life with a sense of entitlement. God says what we deserve is His wrath, but He gave us His mercy and grace (Eph. 2:3-4). May this humble us and shape our approach to what our duty, service, and outlook should be in our every relationship.