Whatever we expect, we soon think we have a right to. My lovely wife and I have in our house clean, running water that we can drink and is available to us whenever we desire, we have the capacity to control the temperature in our house, we have chairs to sit on, a bed to sleep in, and appliances not only to keep food cold, but also to cook that food in. We have shoes for our feet, clothes for our bodies, and even a vehicle that will allow us to travel many, many miles from our home in a single day. We have never known a day in all the years of our marriage where there was not something for us to eat, a television to watch programs on, or an area to shower in.
Not all of you reading this can testify to these things in yourself or in some of those that you personally know. Many of us are so far beyond the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:25-32 where he spoke of being satisfied with food, drink and clothes, that these would be provided for us, that I fear that many Christians are fulfilling the opening statement of this letter to you, we now expect that we have a right to these things.
Are we not living in a civilized world, do we not pay our taxes, do not our bodies feel the toil of our daily labors, should we not expect, yea, even deserve these minor conveniences? I have met those who have had to live in tents or in their vehicles for periods of time, if fact I was one of them on more than one occasion, and I can testify to this, when it is available, a drink of cool, clean water is much more refreshing and appreciated at these times than one that is available at any time I want it from the faucet in the kitchen. Thoughts of a warm and comfortable bed are always in the mind of someone sleeping in their car.
Anger and frustration can quickly turn to despair to those who have not, and see no way of attaining these things. It is not a sin to be poor, in fact, there are times that our Lord intentionally places us in these positions so that He will be all that is left for us to rely on. But what of those that have, and not only have, but have in abundance. Many nations around the planet are now saying that those who have much must give, we must share with those who have not, whether the “have nots” will use it responsibly or not. Those who have worked diligently will be forced to give to those who will not, instead to those who cannot, and the decision of who deserves will be left entirely up to those who take. And how is this newest trick of Satan, which is in reality far from new, being played out? By proclaiming that what we expect we have a right to.
Time itself is a gift from God, my friends, much less the clothes you wear or the food you eat, even the life you live is a gift from Him. I may have stated this in a previous letter to you, if so, please forgive my repetitiveness, but it is applicable to these thoughts. “I don’t deserve anything, and I deserve everything I get.” If you are like most people that I have quoted these words to, you will see them as harsh and negative, but there is a truth in them. We do not deserve anything, in fact you could not even get up to go to work if the Lord had not blessed you with the ability to do so, much less accumulate all those things that are precious to you, that are in reality beginning to control you. And yes, you do deserve everything you get if the only reason you choose to live the life that you live is for your own glory, your own desires, for in the end you will see all of those things just as what they are, just things.
“You can do nothing of yourselves,” (John 15:4) so we should expect nothing of ourselves, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23) so we have a right to nothing. The situation here lies not with the lost, we should expect them to be as they are, of the world, thinking only of it and themselves, the problem is the believer who cannot realize that what he expects he has no right to, not in the material or the spiritual world.
Many of you have much of those things that I spoke of earlier, and more, some have much less, but do we have a right to expect these things or the continuance of them? No, never, they are all as every other item that comes into our lives, including our lives themselves, a gift from God no matter the way they entered into your life.
There are three things that our Lord has promised to us in this world, at least in the context of this letter to you, food, drink and clothes, and even with these we are commanded to “Seek first the kingdom of God,” (Matt. 6:33) and then these things will be added to us. Our difficulty lies in the fact that it may not be our favorite food, or the style of clothes that we desire. There is a “standard of living” that many have determined for themselves, and if that standard is modified in any negative way, we tend to blame God, or think that we are being punished for some sins that we have committed, in other words, that He owes us.
I am sure that some are picking and choosing verses right now that will assure them that our Lord wants us to have nice things, a comfortable, safe and secure life here on earth. These individuals are generally the same ones that have no assurance of their salvation, believe that trials, troubles and tribulations only arrive because of sins or a lack of faith, those who believe that works are necessary for their salvation, and that the most worst and terrible deed will blot their name out of the Lambs book of life. These individuals expect good things and the right to them because they are good and right in the sight of God, and as long as they remain that way, they should be able to expect everything.
You do know that most of the prophets and apostles died horrible deaths, don’t you, you have read the accounts of some of the martyrs, have you not, do you recall the only good and right one who hung on a cross for you? We deserve nothing, and we deserve everything we get, changes the entire context of the statement, doesn’t it?
“There is no one righteous, no not one,” (Rom. 3:10) “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23) “All we like sheep have gone astray,” (Isa. 53:6) Do you know what we should expect, eternal punishment and separation for eternity from a Holy and righteous God, do you know what we have a right to, absolutely nothing. We were made in the image of God, and we have despised that image, we were made to serve Him, yet we serve ourselves, mans one purpose in life is to glorify God and obey His commandments, (Eccl. 12:13) yet it is ourselves that we lift up in pride, and follow only the laws that we have made for ourselves. We have come to expect, and what we expect we think we deserve, both in the world here and the one to come.
Too many Christians are building with wood, hay and stubble today, and too few with gold, silver and precious stones. (1st Cor. 3:12) They have come to believe that what they have should not be taken away, no matter their actions. They see worldly goods as rewards and cling onto them with ferocity, and heavenly rewards they expect, whether they have earned them or not. Far too many will be ashamed and embarrassed on that day.
Give everything you own and everyone you love to God, completely to Him, holding back nothing, if He allows you to keep them, thank Him, if He takes all from you, thank him. What He wants to give you here or in eternity can in no way be compared to what he removes from you here. You must realize that everything that is in your possession here on earth you are going to lose someday, what difference is it if it is today or the day of your death.
Make the only treasure that you seek for from this day forward the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will have gained everything. Expectations made in true faith for Christ’s name and for His glory alone are the only rights we have, and the only ones we need.