Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Diva Requests and Abandoned Rights

I was recently browsing the internet and came across a list of demands that stars have made of the hotels where they stay or of the people who host their concerts. Some of the demands were kind of silly, like a newly installed toilet seat that had never been used or all gold faucets in the rooms. Some revolved around food, where they required particular brands of soda or only organic fruit. Apparently, one celebrity requires that her "suite must be painted and furnished completely in white, with white lilies and white roses, her favorite flowers. White candles prominently placed, preferably with Paris perfume, “Diptyque.” Her sheets must be of Egyptian cotton with a thread count of at least 250. Room temperature set at exactly 25.5 degrees Celsius" (<http://www.huliq.com/43817/top-ten-outrageous-celebrity-demands>).

While most of us are not celebrities who can demand special treatment when we go someplace new, it is not uncommon for very un-famous people to be very demanding when it comes to getting what they are due. Every day we see examples of people who get upset if you call them "Mr." or "Mrs." instead of by their professional title. We have people who go into road rage when another driver doesn't yield the right of way, people in lines at grocery stores or waiting for food at restaurants get upset when people who arrived later get served first. Sometimes, our demand for our "rights" extends to wanting other people to provide the necessities of life for us.

Everyday we encounter areas of life where we feel like we are owed something or due a particular kind of treatment. In some ways, these things help society to function smoothly, such as knowing when and to whom we are to yield the right of way when driving. At other times, these things are simply courtesies that society has developed over time. In either case, we can often feel hurt, angered, or offended when we don't get what is due to us.

In the person of Nehemiah, we find the opposite of this trend. In Nehemiah 5: 14, we read, "Furthermore, from the day King Artaxerxes appointed me to be their governor in the land of Judah…I and my associates never ate from the food allotted for the governor" (HCSB). Nehemiah had arrived in Jerusalem and discovered the squalor in which his fellow Israelites lived and he decided to skip the rights he could have demanded as governor because his rights would have placed an undue burden on the people. He could have demanded gubernatorial rights but decided he could live without them. In Philippians 2:6, Paul says something similar about Jesus who "existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage" (HCSB). In both Jesus' and Nehemiah's case, they had rights they could have demanded based upon who they were but they chose not to demand their rights.

When we choose to follow Christ, we choose not to make an issue of what we think people owe us. Instead, like Christ, we should try to take upon ourselves the very debts other people owe to us. Following Christ's example means we pay other people's debts rather than demanding that people pay us what we are owed.

Does someone owe you? Have you been slighted or been cheated out of what was yours? Follow Christ's example and focus on what you can do for the ones who have wronged you. It will make a world of difference.

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