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How many times do we hear on the TV or radio that the product being advertised is one that “you deserve to have?” For instance, Lasik (the laser eye treatment) is now better than ever so you can have the eyesight you deserve.
Here are some other examples I found in an article on a Google search (italics added):
“”You deserve Virgin Mobile.”
“You deserve NEW, NOW!” shouts a billboard for a housing development in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The most original people deserve the most original vodka,” reads the tagline on a series of ads for Stoli.
Weight-loss products from motivational speaker Tony Robbins claim to give you “the body you deserve” (thin and healthy).
A 2012 book from the popular financial writer Suze Orman promises “the future you deserve” (rich and happy).”
Skipping the Internet and going “old school” I used a thing called a Dictionary to look up what “deserve” means. It says, “to be worthy of or entitled to” and the word “deserved” means “merited; earned.”
So what is my “beef” about this morning? It’s about the UN-deserved attitude of entitlement that people have today which is promulgated and enforced by advertising. The air waves bring us the news (fake and designed to disturb) as well as the TV shows we watch, whether you have cable, satellite or stream them. And who is in charge of the air waves? If you’re asking me (and I assume you are) it is not ABC, or CBS or CNN- it is the one who the Bible tells us is in charge of the air, the Prince of the Air…Satan! (Ephesians 2:2)
I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and my attitude toward people is highly influenced by what I was conditioned to think watching TV as a child. Yes, I used the word “conditioned” because that is what advertising does to us. Nearly 1/3 of every hour of TV is advertising and we watch hours of TV every day. That equates to hundreds of hours of advertising every year. I was in Sales for about 15 years and learned that the career most closely related to sales is psychology. One of the most important lessons I ever learned as a sales professional is that people don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want, and sales is a means of making people think what you have is what they want. The advertising focus when I grew up was that a product was needed and helpful, but now it is focused not on needing the product but deserving it. When we deserve something we think “I want what I deserve; I want what I have earned; I want what I am entitled to have- give me what is mine!”
This pseudo entitlement goes beyond just products and services- it can even influence our spiritual position. People think that they are entitled to be saved, that they have earned their salvation because they go to church every Sunday or keep a Kosher house (although they don’t stay Kosher outside the home.) People think that they deserve to have what they want because that is what they are told (over and over) every 20 minutes while watching TV. The message that sticks in our self-absorbed and hedonistic brains is this: if I want it I deserve it! The result is that people believe because God made salvation free to have that I deserve it, I am entitled to it and I don’t have to do anything to keep it.
No, you aren’t and yes, you do! None of us automatically deserves anything. Even though salvation is free to all who ask, we don’t deserve it and we aren’t entitled to it. And we have to work hard to keep it. Salvation is here for us to have ONLY because God is gracious and loving. And very, VERY merciful.
Moses tells the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 9:6 they aren’t in the land because they deserve it but because the other nations have so terribly sinned that God is ejecting them. He further tell them that they are stiff-necked and if (and when) they also reject God they will also be thrown out of the land.
This message isn’t just for the children of Israel going into the land- it is for every single one of us today. Salvation comes through faith, and faith must be based on a humble and repentant attitude. We need to ask for forgiveness and we need to ask for salvation- we are not deserving or entitled to it. But because of the conditioning from advertising which we are constantly and inescapably exposed to, we begin to think that we are entitled to everything.
I am not saying that we should get rid of all advertising- we can’t. Advertising is an essential thing to have so that we can know what products and services are available to us. What I am suggesting is that we use discretion and common sense when we are exposed to advertising. And we definitely need to point out to our children how wrong are many of the things advertisers try to tell us. We need to remember that what we are told by people selling things is focused on our sinful nature- there is not one moment of advertising I can think of which appeals to our better nature, other than animal rescue commercials. Maybe those commercials that ask for funding of charitable organizations, too, but other than that it is all about me me me and what I deserve to have.
Today’s message is that you must stay humble in the light of your remarkable amount of entitlement; remain steadfast and frugal despite the fact that you deserve to have so many of these wonderful products. Remember that you really don’t deserve anything other than that which you have worked for. Salvation is something we ask for and receive freely, but it takes a lot of work to keep it. We have to live our lives for God and not for self in a world that is all about self. That, my friends, is hard work. And if you stay the course, keep your eyes focused on your eternal reward and not just something that you can get from E-Bay then you will do well.
You don’t deserve salvation and you aren’t entitled to happiness or peace of spirit, but you can have it for free because God is gracious and loving. And once we accept it we then need to work hard to keep it. Just like the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants, they received it as God’s gift but once there they had to deserve to stay in it by obeying God.
Things are no different today.