“It begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. You can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.

–C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

I took the dare at 5:40 pm. I tripped up at 6:24. It only a took a quick look at a friend’s well-liked post to break numbers two and three.

But, Though the righteous man may fall seven times, he won’t be hurled headlong; for the Lord holds his hand. 

Back up, take two, at 6:33.

Now I dare you. 

Will you take the Ella Spees challenge?

It may just save your life.
I say that because of Romans 1: They neither glorified God, nor gave thanks, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

That’s how sin begins its soul-deadening spiral. After ingratitude, it only goes downhill.

Our National Language

We’ve got one, and it’s not English. It’s entitlement. It’s, You deserve a break today, and, Fight for your right. It’s, The moment you start to wonder if you deserve better, you do. And, If they don’t appreciate you, they don’t deserve you.

Entitlement is our native tongue.

It’s how the serpent spoke to Eve, and she was deceived. Maybe he believed it first, with the angels who did not stay within their own positions of authority (Jude 1:6). Did Satan think, I deserve more, respect, more power and authority? Did he dare compare himself to God?

And would he dupe us with his wicked discontent?

Entitlement is a big gun in Satan’s arsenal. But he doesn’t always need to pack it. The lust of the eyes and the pride of life tempt me. I think I deserve good sleep and good kids, good friends and good health, human praise and husband’s love, in my love language. My ear craves words in this language: deserve thanks and deserve to stay home and deserve to be heard.

All of these deserves stem from an ungrateful, entitled heart.

Entitlement or Contentment. Not both.

Entitlement breeds irritation. And impatience and anger and envy and adultery and all manner of sins. It’s a gateway drug. High on entitlement, we’re blind to God’s goodness. We blend into culture rather than shine, doing everything without grumbling or complaining. We fall short of his glory.

We’re kids at the beach all day, who get two scoops on the way home, and cry for more. They neither gave thanks. My right and I deserve undercut gratitude. Entitled drives out in everything give thanks and trumps the truth that, This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Deserve and by grace cannot coexist in our hearts. Discontent or gratitude–one will drive the other out. 

I deserved the raise, that praise. But, What do you have that you did not receiveWe cannot have two masters. Jesus isn’t looking for 60-40 split. We can’t serve ourselves with my rights and I deserve and Christ with from him and through him and to him are all things. To Him be glory forever. 

We cannot and that’s why I took the dare, and why I challenge you.

Because, extremis malis extrama remedia. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Because, discontent and entitlement are deadly.

Enter Ella’s Holy Habits

Ella Spees was a missionary to Africa’s poor for 52 years, in weather so hot she had to drag in the thermometer so it wouldn’t explode when the temperature rose to 120°. 

Ella set a sky-high standard with her “5 Holy Habits for Contentment.” (Note: these are also attributed to E.B. Pusey.)

Practice these and contentment will grow.

1. Never allow yourself to complain about anything-even the weather.
2. Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else.
3. Never compare your lot with another’s.
4. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise. 
5. Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.

I challenge you. Beat my 44-minute mark.

I know: Ella’s five habits are not for the faint of heart. They are for those who get tripped up by envy and self-pity and defiantly want to untangle and grow.

People like me. People who want to learn to take captive every entitled thought and silence every complaining word–even about the weather.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. –Psalm 103:10-11 

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