Anything Week 2: The Bondage of Approval and Entitlement

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Hey, everyone! I hope you left comments on the Anything Week One page as you studied, digested, and uncovered what hinders you most — unbelief, pretending, or shame. What did you think of last week’s projects? We want you in on the conversation sharing your story, praying for others, and being lifted up by this community of believers. If you didn’t get a chance to tackle Week One yet, start here.

This week, we’ll:

Watch the video for Week Two
• Read Chapters 4-5 of Anything
• Study Matthew 19:16-30
• Go through pages 209-215 in the Study Guide at the back of the book.

Our study this week hit the target for me on both points — approval and entitlement. Check. And check.

I know I’m not alone, though. Is there even one among us who doesn’t battle the desire for approval and the problem of entitlement?

We all do — even if we stuff that knowledge down until we don’t recognize it any longer.

From the outside it might be obvious how deeply we crave the approval of someone (or of everyone). Forget crave — we need that acceptance and admiration locked down, guaranteed, signed, sealed, and delivered until kingdom come. And yet, that may be undeniable to others and still somehow escape our awareness.

It may be crystal clear that we have an SUV-sized chip on our shoulders demanding that life go our way, that people do what we require of them, and that we fully expect to get what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. My pastor calls it The Burger King lifestyle. Still, we may not even recognize it one tiny bit!

I didn’t.

I didn’t know that money, financial security, “safety”, and a life laden with the finer things were more important to me than Jesus.

I didn’t know it until it was gone. I didn’t know it until after my marriage fell apart and I found myself a single mother with four of my kids living at my parents’ home, without a car, without a stick of my own furniture, with just some clothes and only $19.13 in the bank. No job, and no work history whatsoever to put on a resumé since I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five for 21 years. Let me tell you what. It was a daily battle to not freak out! The day I stood in front of an open, very-nearly-empty refrigerator not knowing what to do… changed me.

Right then, God asked me:

“What do you spend more time dwelling on — your lack of security and provision, or Me?”

Harsh! God, I thought as I wasted electricity still standing in front of the fridge as if food might magically appear, this is terrifying me! I get to be terrified here! 

I kind of thought that the no home, no car, no money, no food thing was a big deal, but God’s mind was elsewhere entirely. He kept nudging me… What matters more to you? Having what you need, or Me?

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. — Matthew 6:24

I’d gone on mission trips, donated money to World Vision, Compassion International, orphans, widows, and disaster relief.

Wasn’t that enough? God told me to go to Ethiopia and bring home my precious baby girl nearly eight years ago and I did (one of the most joyous days ever!). I took with me bins full of diapers, formula, supplies for the orphan home, and money to give to the care workers. I gave!

Afterward, I came home thinking about the disparity between my level of privilege and the level of excruciating and devastating poverty in the world for months afterward.

But, did it change me? Not very deeply. I’m ashamed to say that I flew home from Africa just as entitled to wealth and luxury as ever before.

I didn’t discover until it was all gone that I had expected to grow in wealth for the rest of my life.

Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. — Jonah 2:8

As Jennie mentioned in Chapter 5, we’ve all heard the statistics on poverty.

If you have more than one shirt to wear, you’re richer than most of the people on the planet. Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. Worldwide, 600 million children live in extreme poverty.

Through lack, through need, through want, the Lord finally started to get through my thick skull… I am the rich, young ruler. Enthusiastic about Jesus and wanting to do good things and have a relationship with Him, but — when it came down to it — caring more about treasures on earth than about those in Heaven. And just like him, Jesus was asking for my heart. My whole heart. He wanted me to look away from earthly needs and quit being so grabby and entitled to what I considered “mine” and be devoted to Him and free with whatever resources He entrusted to me.

There’s nothing like a major change in your circumstances to open your eyes to the needs of those around you and grow a desire within you to release the “mine” grip. Nothing teaches you the value of sharing than being in need. There are few things more beautiful than praying desperate prayers and watching how God uses ordinary people like you and me to provide.

That day I prayed in front of a cleaned-out fridge? A couple of hours later a troupe of anonymous people showed up on my doorstep with grocery bags.

Food appeared.

Not magically. Miraculously. Because God is a God of huge, undeniable, lavish, gracious love. And He cares about my stone-cold, rich girl heart.

I was a weeping, wrecked-for-Him mess. Still am.

I don’t have this lesson learned down-pat in any way, shape, or form. I still battle entitlement. I still get panicky when finances are short and bills and responsibilities stack up. But, I’m so thankful that Jesus is teaching me this crazy, upside-down lesson: we can always give. It’s not “ours” anyway. We can always share. And it’s crazy fun and so beautifully freeing!

It’s ridiculously fun to give as others have given! We don’t need money, possessions, ease, or luxury. We just need Jesus. It’s all His! We truly are blessed in order to be a blessing.

Your Turn

Read Matthew 19:16-30. What do you think Jesus was wanting from the young man? What do you think Jesus wants from you? Leave your comments on this week’s session two video page.

And remember to join the conversation on social media as well using #AnythingProject!

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Laurie McClure

Laurie is a Jesus apprentice, a single mama of five (three homegrown, one Kentuckian, and one Ethiopian), a writer, beach lover, and is addicted to radical grace, Perrier, and yoga pants. Here at FaithGateway she is the editor, the leader of Faith.Full, our women's community, and curator of Devotionals Daily.

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