Living On The Borderline: Part 2 Living With Complacency
In this series Living on the Borderline based on Joshua 13:8-33, we address the tricky issue of trying to live in both worlds. The Kingdom of God and this world. So many choose to live right at the border in hope of tasting the best of both worlds. Little do they realise that in fact, they will lose out on both. In Part 1, we examined the dangers of Choosing What Seems Good yet misses God. In Part 2 we address the problem of complacency.
Now God had clearly instructed the Israelites that they were to totally drive out the inhabitants of the land. Num 33:55 (NIV84) But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.
But they did not! They were too complacent! What is complacency? It is a self-satisfaction, usually in an unreflective way and without being aware of possible dangers. What can we learn about the danger of living with complacency?
FORMS OF COMPLACENCY
We notice in Josh13:13a (NIV84) "But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah…". There was a complacency to fully follow through with God’s instructions, to fully drive out the inhabitants of the land.
Complacency can take many forms. It can be complacency with the things of God, His Word, His purposes. An attitude that says, can't be bothered about my wrong attitudes or sins. It will be right, mate! The Scriptures show that God will judge complacency. Zeph 1:12-13 (NIV84) 12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’ 13 Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished. They will build houses but not live in them; they will plant vineyards but not drink the wine.
It can be complacency with our family life. “My wife and children should be OK”. We can take things for granted. Being a very busy person who travels a lot, it is easy to just close my eyes and ignore my family's needs. But I must not be complacent. I have to do my part to nurture my children in God's way as they grow up! Please don't neglect our families despite the busyness of life!
It can be complacency for our finances too! “I have an OK income. I should be right!” Don't be complacent. Think about your future and your family too! So I place my trust in God to help me financially as I make plans to invest in savings for the sake of the family as the Scriptures teach.
It can be complacency in our work! “As long as I put in the hours!” Can I suggest that there should be an intention to improve and develop in our skills and knowledge at work. Similarly in ministry, we should seek to improve! Both aspects can complement the other. When I was a research scientist in CSIRO, I continued to learn more and hone my leadership, project management and interpersonal skills in a secular setting of a large organisation that also worked with industry. I intentionally learnt more about human resource management, occupational health and safety and so forth. Because I could see that the potential value of such knowledge in the church setting as well. I was not complacent.
RESULTS OF COMPLACENCY
As a result of the complacency of the half tribe of Manasseh, Reuben and Gad, the people of Geshur and Maacah (v13b) "… continue to live among the Israelites to this day." What happened when the Israelites complacently allowed the people of Geshur and Maacah to remain? The Maacah people later rose up to oppose the Israelites in the time of David, by joining the Ammonites. 2 Sam 10:6 (NIV84) When the Ammonites realized that they had become a stench in David’s nostrils, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maacah with a thousand men.
Complacency invites corruption and deterioration. When I was complacent with my garden, the weeds eventually took over!
Complacency invites corruption and deterioration. When I was complacent with my garden, the weeds eventually took over! When we are complacent, things that should not begin to take root and grow and get out of control! In can be in our hearts with wrong or sinful attitudes. It can be in our family when our children go the wrong way. Or financially when we discover resources became depleted due to our lack of proper financial management. Or when we discover our work or ministry is no longer fruitful.
The cost of complacency is always pain later on! Relax now, and much regret later!
The cost of complacency is always pain later on! It allows us to slip to the border easily. Don't live on the borderline! It is better to be alert and effective now. It costs a little more pain more, but we reap the rewards later! Relax now, and much regret later! Pain now, much gain later!
THE INVISIBILITY OF COMPLACENCY
Complacency can be easily hidden behind other strengths and accomplishments of a person.
The challenge of complacency is that it is not often obvious. For the complacent person is not necessarily the same as a lazy person. Complacency can be easily hidden behind other strengths and accomplishments of a person.
Consider that rich man who had a tremendous sense of self-achievement and self-satisfaction because of his good fortune. Jesus taught in Luke 12:16–21 (NIV84) 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’
However, he was complacent about the most important thing - his relationship with God. While we can accomplish to all kinds of things, we should ask ourselves where we are in relation to God. For success in life can fill our senses and attention and cause us to ignore the need to relate with God.
One reason people fall into the trap of complacency is because they fail to have a balanced priority in their life. They tend to become over-focussed on a few areas and neglect important areas in their life, particularly the spiritual area. The wealthy man could have thought to himself that now he had enough for a comfortable life, he could focus more on spiritual matters. But he did never did.
Hence, we often think that things are OK when in reality they are not. But because we fail to realise that, we end up doing nothing and not addressing the issue. Consequently, we eventually suffer loss. Often the issues appear insignificant at first, just like the little foxes in Song 2:15. Yet these foxes destroy the vine. Scriptures also warn us that the Devil is like a prowling lion waiting to devour people (1 Pet 5:8). When we are complacent, we are not alert and easily fall victim to the Devil's schemes.
HOW TO AVOID COMPLACENCY
Following are some key steps we can take:
1. We should determine to be alert and have self-control. 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV84) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. For the Enemy will find it much harder to devour us when we are alert to His schemes. To be alert, we need to be spiritually sensitive to God. We need to be conscious of things which may not be right before God and how it could affect us in due time.
2. We should be willing to listen to others when they point out some areas of concern in our lives. Small areas of problem can grow to be big problems, just like yeast that very soon spreads through the whole (Matt 16:6). That is why we need to be accountable in our lives. This allows others to point out to us potential problem areas in our lives (Pro 9:9).
3. We should learn lessons from others who may have made mistakes in the area of complacency so that we can hopefully avoid the same mistakes. How do we discover that? By relating to wiser, more experienced people. By having mentors. By reading widely in relevant areas, particularly about potential pitfalls.
Complacency can be deceptive because it is not always obvious. It is often hidden behind our areas of strength and accomplishments. We may be deceived to think that because of the myriad of things we are working on, surely we are not complacent. Yet when there is imbalance in our lives, it is easy to neglect key areas, to be complacent about it. The result is always greater pain later on when the area of complacency develops into a significant problem. This is particularly important in spiritual areas and our relationship with God.
Copyright©️2022 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.