Connections 09.25.2022: Entitlement into Eternity

Luke 16:19-31

If I use enough imagination, do a bit of mental gymnastics, I can always find myself in the “good guy” in Jesus’ parables. I can relate to the father who welcomes home the prodigal son, because no way am I the prodigal (or the ticked-off brother). I can relate to the taxpayer praying humbly for mercy, because no way am I the self-righteous Pharisee. And I can relate to Lazarus relaxing at Abraham’s side in heaven, because no way am I the eternally entitled rich man.

Yeah, right.

Instead of doing mental tricks to convince myself I’m like Lazarus, the truth is I don’t have to look too hard to see myself in the rich man.

Most likely he was shocked to get to the afterlife and find it a bit… on the toasty side. He’s sweating it, literally. And just as he had in life, he expects to be able to pull a few strings. It’s understandable, really. He simply takes for granted that he should have refreshment, that there should be someone to bring him want he wants, and even that he should get to send a special message to his equally entitled siblings. He’d always had cold drinks, quick service, and second chances; why would it be different now?

This is how entitlement works. It’s not a conscious choice, but an automatic behavior. It’s an assumption based on historical data: our lives have always worked a certain way, so why would we expect anything else? I have a hunch the rich man in Jesus’ story would’ve spent eternity puzzling over what happened to him. He must have been utterly confused. His entitlement was a natural result of his place in the world and the way that world worked to support him without him even knowing it.

We may think we’re off the hook of this parable because we don’t think we are rich. I wonder, though, if we don’t realize how rich we are—in many ways, not only in our bank accounts—simply because of our place in the world and the way the world supports us without our even knowing it. Maybe we can only really see our own wealth when we catch ourselves acting entitled: making assumptions and then feeling utterly confused when we don’t get what we think we deserve. Maybe—hopefully—unlike Jesus’ roasting rich guy, we’ll break the habit of our entitlement before it is too late.


  • Over the past several months, Connections has explored a number of Jesus’ teachings and parables addressing issues of humility and wealth. Review these lessons (looking back through the lesson guides or our Coracle blog posts). How does Jesus’ description of the rich man and his attitudes and behaviors compare with those other teachings? What is consistent among Jesus’ teachings and stories on these topics?
  • Are you aware of any areas of your life where you make assumptions or have expectations about how you should be treated, what you deserve, or how your life should work? Where do those expectations come from? Do you think those expectations are fair and accurate? Do you need to reconsider any of your attitudes or assumptions?
  • This parable describes the afterlife and the ways the expectations and assumptions of these two humans’ lifetimes are turned upside-down. Read Mary’s song (commonly called “the Magnificat”) in Luke 1:46-55. Compare it to Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. How are Jesus’ teachings consistent with God’s upside-down eternal intentions for those who are “entitled” on earth?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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