Friday, August 02, 2013

The “You Deserve It” Deception

A great vacation, a new car, or even just an extra scoop of ice cream – at some time in our lives, we’ve likely all been told the interesting phrase, “Go ahead! You deserve it!” Usually, we don’t need someone else to give us license to have this approach in life. We do plenty of it for ourselves. In our heads, we validate decisions and in order to excuse many things that we desire (or to escape things that we don’t), we implement this into our thought life and ultimately, into our decision making. As we’ll see, we may find that we do this more than we realize – often entirely unaware.

This thought pattern is seemingly running as rampant today within the Body of Christ as it is within the world. TV preachers and highly-acclaimed “Christian” authors declare that we, as children of God, deserve prosperity, success and all the best that this world has to offer. The mainstream Christian patterns clearly announce that the modern-day Believer should meet certain criteria in order to be properly viewed as an acceptable and successful Christian (much of which is entirely unbiblical by the way). I won’t spend the time spelling out what many of these things are because that isn’t the point. The main issue however can be summed up quite simply. We’re told the lie that surely we must deserve to be happy, at all costs. So we buy into the same deception that governs the world in order to seek out personal pleasures, to preserve our comfortable way of life and to assure that we’re top dog.  

Anything that causes us trial, grief or hurt is often categorized as “the work of the devil” and must be avoided at all costs. So we, in spiritual ignorance and immaturity, become those who take flight at the arrival of adversity. Instead of patiently waiting to see if it’s an opportunity for us to be purified and refined, we fight it off and resist because it threatens our temporal happiness and comfort. (Luke 21:19, 2 Cor 6:4, James 1:3,4) Let’s run a few common scenarios as examples (some serious, some simple).

Are you too tired from a long week’s work to take time to spend with your family this weekend? Of course you are. You deserve some time to yourself. Go take another weekend  golf outing with the guys and relax, you deserve it.

Is your marriage failing? No one should have to put up with that. Just leave her/him and go get someone else. You deserve to be happy, don’t you?

As you round the aisle corner about to get in line at the supermarket, a young lady with a cart teeming with groceries gets into the line right in front of you (how dare she)! You should not have to wait for her! She’s surely not aware of your time constraints. You should have gone first… you deserve it!

Of course, all you really need to eat tonight is a small meal and, yes, people within a few blocks of you literally have no dinner to eat, but you work hard for what you have. Go drop $100 on a meal and indulge! You deserve it!

Yes we know that Jesus said to love our enemies and turn the other cheek, but they're just so evil. They must be eradicated! We deserve to be free and safe!

Is it really God’s will for you to live a life of giving away your time and possessions? Surely not! Buy that new car and the new house! You surely deserve it!

Of course we could do this all day but you get the point. Interestingly, these types of thought patterns and views are nothing new. In fact, I’d pose the simple fact that they all mirror, and flow from, the original rebellion in the Garden recorded in Genesis chapter 3. What I call the “you deserve it deception”. When the crafty serpent approached Eve, he instantly catered to her fleshly desire to have it all. Even though she walked and talked with God Himself and enjoyed life in a lavish garden of perfection, when presented with “more” she had to have it. The serpent, before he did anything, got Eve to question what she knew as truth. Before she even considered biting the fruit, she bit into the lie of questioning Who God is and what He had established as order. The serpent basically told Eve that she deserved so much more than what God had promised her. And he presents the same lie today to you and me.

Oh how this needs to sink deep into our hearts and minds today! It all starts in the unregenerated patterns of thought that we’ve not submitted to the mind of Christ. The great Deceiver’s tactics have not changed throughout the ages. He whispers, “Does God really desire for you to stay with your wife? Surely He knows how miserable you are. Run! Get away! You deserve better.” “Did Jesus really say to give away your earthly possessions and  help the poor? Surely that was just metaphorical, right? It’s OK to live life to the fullest. Get what can. You deserve it!” “Does Jesus really want you take the lower position and always be last in the here and now? Surely not! He wants you to have the best!” And just like Eve, we bite into the rebellious deception that removes God from the throne of our lives and we gleefully climb into it ourselves and attempt to get comfy. Deservedly! Eve saw that what the Deceiver was enticing her with was “good for food, a delight to her eyes and desirable to make [her] wise.” We do the same today my friend and this must not be so for the child of God. We must have eyes opened and illuminated by Christ in order to see these deceptions for what they truly are (2 Cor 4).

I’ll only briefly mention this, but it’s worth pointing out that much of today’s American religion expresses the thought that clergy and others “in ministry” somehow are deserving of earthly favor. Many fully expect restaurant discounts, gifts and other various “blessings” for their service. I find this almost impossible to grasp when I study the Scriptures and read about early Christian fathers. Friends, we should be leading the way in desiring the lowest position in all that we do in order to point others to Christ.  All we deserve, according the Jesus, is to be “despised because of [His] name”.

I would like to add some clarity here and be sure to point out that there are things due us as children of God. Things are imputed to us by Christ but absolutely all of it is for His glory and our transformation to become more like Him. Almost all of it is of the eternal sort and cannot be linked to temporal conditions. Time after time, in the Scriptures (as well as early Church history) we see examples of those called according to the name of Christ finding joy and life in the midst of their trials and tribulations. When appropriately viewed, it will never be circumstantial or based upon worldly pleasures. God does not desire us to be miserable and forlorn throughout this life! But, it absolutely must be sought out within His law and conditions or else we forfeit His will, exchanging it for our own (as Eve).

With my son nearing the two-year mark in a few weeks, I currently see a lot of this run its course in our home. His rebellion and desire to get his way mirrors the spiritual so much it baffles me. It’s this same, “I deserve!” approach that often rules us. He wants his way, despite what the guidelines we have set state. He wants and wholeheartedly feels that he is deserving of it too (and he will, of course, make sure that you know it). If it restrains him, limits him or goes against what he desires, he often responds with great opposition. Are we so different? We, like our children, must properly behave as children of the Most High. We must surrender our fleshly cravings and acknowledge that we’ve too often allowed the Deceiver to tickle our ears. It all must start with knowing the voice of our Father and understanding His law and commands. We must know what Christ says in regards to daily matters that we encounter. Secondly we must be found recognizing the cunning ways of the Deceiver. If it caters to our fleshly desires (belly, eyes, wisdom exalted above God), then we must be alert to see it for what it is. Only one walking in the activated mind of Christ and maturing in the Lord will come out the other side of these deceptions victorious (1 Cor 14:20, Heb 5:14).

Today, I urge you to take some time to assess your priorities. Ponder some of the major decisions that you’ve made over the last twelve months or so. What was your motive? What propelled you to act? What was your desired outcome? How much of what you desired to see as an outcome was originally rooted in an “I deserve” mindset? It’s my hope and prayer that we get to a place where our goal is to honor God and remain whole-heartedly seeking His perfect law above all else. Trials and challenges will come, of this we can be sure. It’s our biblical response to them that defines us as the children of God. Let’s allow them to propel us into a deeper reliance upon our Father to hold us, teach us and refine us into obedient sons and daughters of the Most High! Body of Christ, let’s leave the ancient “you deserve it” deception behind and forge ahead into obedience at all costs!


Drewe said...

Great Post! A message that is good to hear regularly....

Bern Ibarra said...

thanks for the reminder.