My name is Chris Thomas. I’m a fortunate husband, a father of three and Dad to five. I’m an advocate of foster care as an expression of the gospel. I’m a pastor at Raymond Terrace Community Church, a regional church based in the Hunter Valley, Australia. I mostly write about the gospel and how it informs both work and rest.

Overcoming The Wicked Stepsisters—'Consumerism' and 'Entitlement'

Overcoming The Wicked Stepsisters—'Consumerism' and 'Entitlement'

Recently, two door-to-door sales people came knocking. Now I'm not really a sucker for the slick sales techniques they employed and they really had their work cut out for them when they knocked on my door.

But these guys were good. Real good.

I was impressed with how they worked the front door; it's a tough gig. They scrambled and manoeuvred, charmed and baited, read my body language, and even fed off the seeming chaos of my 5 kids who were all running around the house in various degrees of catastrophe during that moment.

"You need this", they implored, "Isn't it time you looked after you?"

These guys really worked me over, tag-teaming my emotions until I was almost tempted to buy whatever insipid product they were hocking, simply as a tip of the cap to their effort.

But I didn't. I politely thanked them, then shut the door.

I was glad to see the back of this tag-teaming duo who had tried so hard to weasel their way through my front door.

Yet there is another duo, the wicked stepsisters of consumerism and entitlement that come knocking at my door every day, sometimes numerous times a day.

As a follower of Jesus who has had his heart captivated by the beauty of the gospel, these two ugly truths continue to reveal a dark secret of my soul.

I want it all, and I want it now. More than that, I believe I deserve it all, and that I deserve it now.

My heart's drift toward consumerism and entitlement is constant and unrelenting.

And so is yours.

Where will we turn when these wicked stepsisters come knocking?

Let me give you two options that have helped me:

Philippians 4:10-20 (ESV)—I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

There are few other places in scripture that speak so intently to the condition of the human heart, as it relates to our love affair with consumerism, as in Philippians. Here, Paul's gospel-shaped heart rejoices not in the gift itself, but in the heart that gave the gift. The gift's significance was not in its monetary worth, but instead, the gift was a vehicle that carried its giver's love and concern. Paul had already found the source of contentment, and it wasn't in the next gift that came in the mail.

The next time consumerism comes knocking at the door, redirect your heart to Paul's letter to the Philippians, and this wicked stepsister will go no further.

But what about the other? That sneaky twin, entitlement?

1 Corinthians 9:15-17 (ESV)—But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.

Nothing kills the siren call of entitlement like a healthy dose of gospel truth.

As a part of a much more complex argument, Paul writes to the Corinthian church to remind them of how the gospel informs his attitude toward them. He, of all people, had significant and valid rights to call on, rights that could demand the Corinthian's loyalty and respect.

But the gospel challenges and transforms our entitlements, even rightful ones.

The gospel applied to my daily life teaches me that all I have I have been given because of grace. My privileged position before the throne of God is unmerited; my only plea is the perfect work of Christ.

So the next time these wicked stepsisters come knocking, remind them of their place in light of the gospel, point your heart toward the eternal Word of God, then politely shut the door.

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Weekend Wandering (27/1)

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