Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lie No. 10: I Have My Rights

This one will undoubtedly be difficult to hear, for some more than others, but I encourage you to read and to be honest with yourself about the kinds of expectations you have built up in your life.

I have my rights... our entire country is founded on this principle. And I'm not here to argue the entire constitutional structure of our nation. I am extremely grateful for the safety and protection those "rights" afford me. But have we allowed this "fight for your rights" mentality to change the way God calls us to live? DeMoss has this to say:

"The modern-day feminist movement was birthed and has been sustained by persuading women to march and clamor for 'rights': the right to vote; the right to be free from the shackles of housework; the right to equal employment opportunities; the right to equal wages; the right to control our own bodies; the right to say what we want to say, to do what we want to do, to be what we want to be; the right to be free from a husband's name and from every other form of 'male domination.'" p. 74 (emphasis mine)

I ask you to question the "rights" you have claimed in your life, weigh them against what Scripture says, and determine for yourself whether or not they are indeed your God-given rights. Here is a brief and far from exhaustive list (found on p. 75) of "rights" many of us have claimed which are in fact not our rights at all:
  • you have a right to be happy;
  • you have a right to be understood;
  • you have a right to be loved;
  • you have a right to a certain standard of living, to an equitable wage, and to decent benefits;
  • you have a right to a good marriage;
  • you have a right to companionship and romance;
  • you have a right to be treated with respect in the workplace;
  • you have a right to be valued by your husband and appreciated by your children;
  • you have a right to time off and a certain number of vacation days;
  • you have a right to a good night's sleep;
  • you have a right to have your husband pitch in with the household chores.
As I mentioned above, this list is far from complete. What "rights" can you add to the list that you are claiming in your life right now? We are a nation of rights. Everything is our right. We have a right to justice, to respect, to happiness. We have allowed the world's way of thinking to so permeate our minds that we accept it as fact and claim it proudly, shaking our fists and stomping our feet if a single one of those assumed "rights" are violated, when in fact, Scripture makes it clear to us, that the only "right" we have, the only thing we deserve, is death.

"Now we are being punished because of our wickedness and our great guilt. But we have actually been punished far less than we deserve, for you, our God, have allowed some of us to survive as a remnant...O Lord, God of Israel, you are just. We come before you in our guilt as nothing but an escaped remnant, though in such a condition none of us can stand in your presence." Ezra 9:13-15

By the grace of God, and His grace alone, we have been spared from the death that we deserve, and that gift alone should be so overwhelmingly powerful that the mere thought of asking, much less demanding, for more would be repulsive and incomprehensible to us. And yet, we do expect more. We demand more. And when we don't get it, we become indignant. How dare anyone deny me my rights? How dare that person cut me off in traffic, say something so rude to me, take me for granted, you name it...

And if anyone had just cause to demand any kind of rights, it was Jesus, and yet, he set aside his rights and chose instead to sacrifice everything. In Philippians, Paul instructs us to be like Christ:

"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross." Philippians 2:6-8

We have to remember to use the Bible as our guide book on how to live life, not magazines, self-help books, television shows, movies, politicians, or any other voice that speaks outside the parameters of God's word. And nowhere in the Bible does God say anything about fighting for your rights, or about making sure you get what you deserve, or about chasing your dreams to fulfill a longing. Instead, God instructs us to yield everything to him.

"The fact is, successful relationships and healthy cultures are not built on the claiming of rights but on the yielding of rights. Even our traffic laws reflect this principle. You'll never see a sign that says, 'You have the right of way.' Instead, the signs instruct us to 'Yield' the right of way. That is how traffic flows best; it is also how life works best." p. 74

When we live our lives with the notion that we are entitled to any number of things, we place expectations on the people and world around us, a people and a world that are imperfect and ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE of living up to those expectations. We are destined to be disappointed. We are destined for misery because we will never receive all that we think we deserve. We will always be fighting for our "rights", always clamoring to gain the life we think we are entitled to, and never really being truly satisfied. And all the while, as we are working so hard trying to make ourselves happy, we have completely neglected our responsibility to serve God and others.

As the saying goes... What Would Jesus Do?

"For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will." John 6:38

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