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I deserve it! February 12, 2014

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Scripture.

The world today (TV shows, Movies, Commercials, print advertisements, etc.) pushes the idea that we deserve things – We work hard and do the right thing so we deserve to have a comfortable life, a nice car, nice home, vacations, good salaries, etc.

Our instincts tell us that we deserve respect for who we are (parents, bosses, and citizens) and that we deserve fairness, justice, equality, love because we offer those things to others.

In essence we have been convinced, through up-bringing, through media, and through the fabric of our society that we deserve our due – we’ve worked for it, we’ve earned it, it is owed to us and it is our right to have it: we deserve it.

I want to discuss the spiritual/biblical concept of what we deserve, and how that leads into the worldly/carnal consequences of demanding our due.

According to Scripture, we have all sinned (Rom 3:10-12, Rom 3:23) and as a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Rom 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15). If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be condemned for eternity. That we live at all is owed to God’s forbearance – an act of God’s mercy.

Not only are we undeserving recipients of God’s mercy, we are also recipients of His grace. We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy (Rom 3:24).

In Mark, chapter 10 James and John thought to ask Jesus for their ‘due’, for what they felt they deserved: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him and said to Him, Teacher, we desire You to do for us whatever we ask of You. And He replied to them, what do you desire Me to do for you? And they said to Him, Grant that we may sit, one at Your right hand and one at [Your] left hand, in Your glory (Your majesty and splendor).

Jesus’ answer to them was that their due was to live a life of service, a life of giving – not receiving: But Jesus called them to [Him] and said to them, You know that those who are recognized as governing and are supposed to rule the Gentiles (the nations) lord it over them [ruling with absolute power, holding them in subjection], and their great men exercise authority and dominion over them. But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for (instead of) many.

For the Christian, in the real world, our scriptural direction is to live a life as a servant to all. To give in all that we do and to understand that when we serve, when we give, it is not a means to an end or an act performed to get something back. We do not serve to be recompensed. We do not give to be compensated, intrinsically or extrinsically.  

When we offer respect to an individual we do not (should not) show that respect in expectation that we will in turn be respected. We do not offer compassion with the goal of having that compassion returned. We do not give with the expectation that we will receive – what should underlie all of our service (in any form: respecting, loving, giving, and offering compassion, mercy, and forgiveness) is the knowledge that we do so because God has done so for us, without expectation that such would be returned.

It is fitting, at this point, to examine the true meaning of the word deserve.  Webster defines it as such:


verb (used with object), de·served, de·serv·ing.

to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) 

because of actions, qualities, or situation.

verb (used without object), de·served, de·serv·ing.

to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward, 

punishment, recompense, etc.

If you look closely at how the word is constructed you see it as de – served, or de – serving. What does the prefix de- mean?


A prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin;

 also used to indicate privation, removal, negation, reversal

In essence deserve is a negation of ‘serve’, a separation from ‘service’.  It is essentially a diametric opposition to Christ’s example and dictate to serve.

From a psychological viewpoint we need to understand what expectation does to us. If we believe that we are owed something (“I’m the boss and I deserve their respect”, or “I’ve worked hard for this and I deserve it”) we are setting ourselves up for a whole plethora of negative thoughts and feelings when our expectations are not met. We become disappointed, we build resentment, anger, and envy.

Resentment can be sparked by perceived unfair treatment by another person. It could be an injustice, like not getting a deserved promotion, or it could be an insult. Either way, resentment stems from a love of the things of the world and a lack of faith in God and His plan. It is legitimate to recognize unfair treatment, and even to do something about it. But it is not helpful to wallow in feelings of self-righteous anger. The Bible is not concerned with the honor of human pride. An intense emotional response to an otherwise harmless insult may show a lack of spiritual maturity and a love of self – You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.  (Mat 5:38-39)

As David fled Jerusalem, he faced the curses and insults of Shimei. Rather than respond with resentment towards Shimei—and instead of killing him, as was the king’s right (verse 9)—David chose the path of humility. His words are amazing: “If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”. David avoided feelings of resentment by viewing the situation as from the Lord.

Anger can become sinful when it is motivated by pride (James 1:20), when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes (1 Cor 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Eph 4:26-27). One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer. Ephesians 4:15 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Rom 6:13-14).

Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Prov 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake. Often, the consequences of out-of-control anger are irreparable. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside. This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.

But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

When we crave what someone else has rather than being grateful for what God has given, we hurt ourselves. Instead of envying others, we are called to love them.

True love—God’s love—rejoices when others are blessed. There is no room for envy. Love does not seek to benefit itself and it is content with what it has, because its focus is on meeting the needs of the loved one.



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