You worked your butt off to get that promotion? Sorry, you don’t deserve it.

Want a good husband? Sorry, you don’t deserve it.

Everyone deserves to be loved by someone. Sorry, they don’t deserve it.

What about the love of Christ? Sorry, you don’t deserve it.

Now, don’t freak out. Let me explain: It all comes down to the meaning of “deserve.” Deserve means to be worthy of something. Well, none of us are perfect. Therefore, none of us are worthy…

“But I have been faithful! I deserve [insert blessing of choice]!”

So, let me get this straight:  We promise to God we will be faithful in hopes we will receive eternal life. We inevitably fail. So, we obviously do not deserve nor are worthy of eternal life. But we allow another man – who was perfect in every way – to pay the price for our failings and give us hope to still gain eternal life. And we still think He owes us anything? No, He doesn’t owe us a thing. We deserve nothing.

Consider the following allegory: You’re at a birthday party at your rich uncle’s mansion. You don’t know him very well, but you’re there because your parents insisted it was your duty. When it’s time to open gifts, you realize you didn’t bring one, but you don’t feel obligated. You hardly know the guy.  

He doesn’t open a single present. Instead, he calls you forward out of the crowd and gives you a gift: He tells everyone there all he has is now yours – his home, his fortune, his name, and his reputation.  

“But I don’t deserve any of this,” you tell him, “I didn’t even bring you a present on your birthday. I don’t even really know you at all” 

“Nevertheless,” is all he says as he leaves the mansion with nothing to his name.

A couple of years later, you’ve squandered everything. You mortgaged the home and failed to make the payments. The retirement savings have vanished. Everything has been repossessed. Even your name and reputation irreparably ruined: people are gossiping about you and your irresponsible behavior. Your Uncle found out about it and publicly defended your “good name.”  The angry mob turned on him and beat him nearly to death. He was in the hospital for months. You felt so guilty, you didn’t visit him once. In fact, you haven’t talked to your Uncle once, even after all he gave you.  You realize you never even thanked him.  

Now, after giving everything away to you – in the meantime, he has worked hard and rebuilt a fortune.  “That’s a relief,” you think, “He deserves some good fortune.”  

You show up at his birthday party again, but this time out of guilt. And again without a present, because, well, you can’t afford one. He finds out about your squandering of his gift, and without a second thought, gifts you his entire empire AGAIN.  

“Now I know I really don’t deserve this,” you tell him. “I might lose it all, again.”  

“Nevertheless,” is all he says as he leaves the mansion with nothing to his name.

A few years later, you can’t believe it. You’ve squandered everything again. You show up at his birthday party again, this time to apologize profusely for being so irresponsible and not learning your lesson. Your uncle has rebuilt his wealth again, but when you see him, he is battered, bruised and bleeding everywhere. You find out the rest of your family beat him senseless once they found out he was going to give “their inheritance” to you, again. Tears roll down your face as you plead with him to not sign away his fortune, “Why do you keep giving me all this? I don’t deserve any of this!!”

“Nevertheless,” he says in a quaky voice as he hands you the blood-stained document and walks out the door.

Now tell me, in this scenario, would you ever come to him and tell him you deserve ANYTHING from him, at all? No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t ask him for a dime. Yet, we still think we can pray to God, who gave us life and the Atonement and have the gall/chutzpah/gumption to tell Him you deserve a good husband? A peaceful life? ANYTHING AT ALL? Where do we get off?

So, now tell me this: What do you deserve?  

A good job? No way.  

A home? Uh-uh.

Obedient children? Nope. You deserve nothing.  

This has to be true. How else can you justify the insane suffering seen in this world? How would a loving God allow this? Because God knows He’s already given us the greatest gift of all time and at no small sacrifice to Himself. Any blessing He might give us in this life is just icing on the cake.

Why is this important to understand? Because feeling you are “owed something” or that you “deserve” something is a certain way to lead an unhappy and bitter life. 

“We are indebted to God for our very lives. When we keep His commandments, which is our duty to do, He immediately blesses us. We are therefore continually indebted and unprofitable to Him.”

Elder W. Rolfe Kerr

If you understand the principle of the unprofitable servant, you will instead be grateful and praise the Lord for whatever blessing he does give you, rather than demanding to be paid what you “deserve.” It is a major blessing in this life to realize you deserve nothing… absolutely nothing.

And the best news of all? Even though you don’t deserve it, the Lord will shower you with blessings, anyway. How grateful we should be if he gives us anything at all!  And He does – He still gives and gives!

When much is given and much is done by the disciple, then God’s generosity is overwhelming!”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Suggested Reading:

You can follow Bozy Hasman on Twitter at @BozyHasman.

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