It is our fleshly inclination to stay seated on the throne of our own lives. When we see God simply as the means to our own happiness or success, we fail to recognize Him as our Lord. This is the malady of an entitled spirit. We want God’s help, but not His interference. We will “flatter Him, but never obey Him” (AW Tozer). David discovered the secret of an unentitled heart by recognizing God for who he was – the lover of his soul, yet sovereign over all. He trusted God’s faithfulness and love, but revered His authority and power. In order to do likewise, we must remove the only entitlement we are born with: the right to rule our life – to serve our own kingdom on our own terms.
Peter’s choice of the upside-down cross was the truest symbol of unentitled devotion because he refused to exalt himself even in imitation of Christ, thus representing His completely self-denying identity. The only response of a true disciple when confronted with the cross of Christ is to lose all sense of pride in your own glory, to release your earthly expectations and take up your cross and follow Him in the pattern of unconditional lay-down-your-life love.
Following Christ’s pattern involves removing all sense of self-entitlement and surrendering the right to your own life. We must rid ourselves of the fleshly instinct to self-serve, self-preserve, self-exalt, self-protect, self-defend, self-sustain, self-obtain, self-fulfill, self-determine, and self-reign. Only then can we begin the incredible journey of learning to hear the voice of God and respond in humble obedience. Furthermore, unentitled love is the only weapon powerful enough to defeat the principalities of darkness and transform a human heart into the true likeness of God.
What did Jesus do in response to his equality with God? He laid down his right to be God. Jesus was the only person truly entitled to equality with God, and yet He chose to separate Himself from that reality by literally dying to Himself and thus denying His own right to exert His Godlike power and authority. Our Lord traded His divine entitlement for the will to die. Jesus’ death was a fulfillment of the true character of God, a tangible way to tell the world that the true divine instinct does not rise towards power and preservation but denies the tempting urge to grasp at it. God sent the person of Jesus to be the complete and perfect imprint of His own self-denying identity.
It is this kind of self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-focused “proprietary ownership” of our own bodies that provides the underlying framework for the entitlement mindset. The only antidote to this mindset is for us to take our eyes off of ourselves, to stop thinking of our fleshly bodies as some thing which belongs to us and instead continually recognize that we do not belong to ourselves and that the One to whom we DO belong has a glory and a purpose that is far greater and more profound than our paltry grasp of our own self-conscious existence.