Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what others have and refuse to be content where God has us. In some cases, we are lazy and not willing to do what is required. Instead, we grumble, complain, and sometimes become bitter and resentful.
Nehemiah 1 & 2
Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work
Grumbling, Complaining & Coveting or Faithfully Working & Obeying?
“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”
These two verses make me think of a story I read about a famous pianist. A man came up to him once and said, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” The pianist replied, “I did.”
I am not advocating neglecting family or any other God-given priority to seek selfish goals, but so often we want things that others have without being willing to do what it takes to obtain them. In the case of a lazy man, he covets the things that others have worked to obtain, but isn’t willing to do the same.
This is an attitude that is rampant in our society today. Many people, even Christians, have an entitlement attitude, even about spiritual things.
We covet others’ gifts and talents, their lifestyles, and their levels of success.
We compare our spouses to theirs, secretly envy, and wonder why our spouse can’t be more like theirs.
We grumble and complain, nag, or just get bitter and resentful.
Instead, we should first take the log out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.5), then get on with living our lives to please Him (2 Cor. 5.9-10), and trust that if we seek to be doers of the Word, we will be blessed in the ways He sees fit (Jas. 1.22-25).
Please don’t miss that part of the equation, “get on with living our lives to please Him.” That may include many things, like: loving others biblically, choosing to forgive, being faithful in our service to God and others, and our commitment to Bible reading and prayer.
When it comes to financial, career, or even ministry success, we need to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2), work at whatever the Lord has given us to do whole-heartedly for Him, not just because someone is watching us (Eph. 6.5-8). And we need to do it for His glory and not our own (1 Cor. 10.31).
Today’s Other Readings:
Nehemiah’s Cushy Job
Nehemiah reminds me of Moses who:
“… refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11.24-26).
Nehemiah had a rather cushy job as cupbearer to the king (aside from the fact that if someone tried to poison the king he would drink it first!). But because of his job, he would have been a trusted friend to the king. He lived in the palace with many of its perks and benefits, but it didn’t stop him from grieving for and being concerned about the well-being of his people.
And he wasn’t just concerned, he was willing to do something about the situation—to give up his comfortable position and take a dangerous journey, go to a city that was largely unprotected, and undertake an enormous project.
What if …?
What if God called you to the mission field? Or to quit your job and work for Him full time? Or to accept a job with less financial benefits so you’re available to serve Him more? Would you be willing?
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them the model prayer (actually an outline of the things we should pray) we often refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Luke 11.2-4:
2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”
In the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus was faced with the inevitability of the cross, He Himself prayed, “… not my will, but yours be done” (Lk. 22.42).
How do you pray? Are you willing to surrender your will to His? Why or why not? What does that say about your level of faith and trust in Him?
A Regular Time of Prayer
Verse 13, “ But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You.”
The psalmist, even in his distress, not only cries out about his specific problems, but he faithfully prays “in the morning”—a regular time of prayer and meditation before God.
“I must also …”
“When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome’” (Acts 19.21).
God was leading Paul to Rome. Paul understood that he must go there, but he may or may not have known that he would be a prisoner the whole time.
Sometimes God in His wisdom chooses not to show us everything that is ahead of us, because it would overwhelm us. He shows us just what we need to know as we need to know it.
That’s one of the ways He fulfills His promise in 1 Corinthians 10.13:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
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