Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Entitlement Mindset

Joshua 17:14-18

“And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?” (Joshua 17:14) 

Seven tribes had not yet received their land but Ephraim and Manasseh are already complaining their piece isn’t big enough.  After all, they are such a great people because God has blessed them so much.  They completely ignored the fact that Manasseh’s land in Bashan and Gilead was about as large as the land of Judah,  and that their combined land on the west side was equally large.  The sense of entitlement is always selfish.

This sense of being entitlement is especially prevalent in our day.  There is a tendency to focus on the recipients of welfare, Social Security and Disability as feeling entitled, but the problem goes much deeper.  In an interview with the author of “The Plutocrats”, she stated that the highly paid executives feel they are owed huge bonuses even though their company is struggling, or that the companies were owed bailouts because they are the key to American success.  American politicians believe they are owed exorbitant retirement benefits because they worked so hard for the people.  Middle class doctors and Lawyers believe they deserve more than others because of their degrees.  Children believe they have a right to everything they want.

It has invaded the church as well, with pastors of small churches refusing to take part time employment to help support themselves, and churches expecting to be supported by other churches or have their buildings donated.  The attitude is summed up in the statement by one preacher whose church was discussing a major purchase.  “We deserve the best because we are serving the Lord.”

“And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.” (Joshua 17:15) 

Joshua’s response was that if they were that great, and they really needed more land they were capable of driving out the Canaanites that lived among them or of taking some of the land in the hills nearby.  They had enough to get by, and it was not everyone else’s responsibility to provide as much as they might want.

“And the children of Joseph said, The hill is not enough for us: and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both they who are of Bethshean and her towns, and they who are of the valley of Jezreel.” (Joshua 17:16)

Their response was that it wasn’t fair that they’d have to work for the land because after all, the Canaanites had chariots of iron and would resist.  In the financial crisis, I gained a lot of respect for Ford for not accepting the bailouts like GM and Chrysler, going ahead and dealing with their problems themselves.  By doing as they did, they demonstrated that

Good leadership and hard work could succeed.   While GM has posted some of their largest profits ever, it seldom mentioned that more than half their production has been moved to China, or that a major part of the profit is the product of government subsidies.  For example the Toyota Prius and the Cheverolet Volt cost about the same on the market, but GM receives a hundred thousand dollars from the government to pay for making them, while Toyota does not.  If they are as good, they should be able to produce the same product for a competitive the same price.  If they can’t, they shouldn’t be in that market.

“And Joshua spake unto the house of Joseph, even to Ephraim and to Manasseh, saying, Thou art a great people, and hast great power: thou shalt not have one lot only: But the mountain shall be thine; for it is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine: for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” (Joshua 17:17-18)

More land was available, and Ephraim and Manasseh were free to take as much as they wanted.  They were not limited to what they had been given, but it was not incumbent on the others to get it for them.  It was their responsibility to earn it themselves.  It would cost the others just as much as it would cost them to get it.  The iron chariots were just an excuse for not taking their responsibility.

In Roman times, the lands of Ephraim and Manasseh on the west of Jordan, together with the lands given to Dan would be known as Samaria.


  1. We have preachers like Joel Osteen who encourage this mentality; it is entirely pandemic in our age to foster and exercise our right to have more, and the best of, everything. The health and wealth preachers opened the doors and positive thinking kept them open to this destructive delusion that God secretly wants to lavish His children with every earthly pleasure we can conceive. I shudder to think what the Bible tells us we're actually entitled to...

    1. You are exactly correct in your assessment. Unfortunately, the attitude pervades almost the entire world including the church. The rich and powerful, and the poor are equally convinced they are owed whatever they want.

      The idea of merit pay for themselves is offensive to most people today, although tye would approve it for others.