The dictionary definition of complacent is “to be contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” Sadly this describes far too many in the church today. They have grown so comfortable with their spiritual standing that they have become complacent, to the point where they are living out a Christless Christianity.
Complacency is never good; contentment is another thing altogether. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to encourage us:
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
When the apostle Paul said he had learned to “be content,” we misunderstand if we believe he was equating content with satisfied. Sure, we all need to learn to be content with what we have, but that is to be in the context of pursuing what God has set before us. The rhythm of redemption is not to rest on our laurels and succumb to the cruel current of complacency. We are to continue pressing on until our race is over.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
In Paul’s contentment, he continued straining forward and pressing on in the direction God was calling him to go. Paul knew that being “satisfied” would only lead to complacency and watering down his impact in expanding the cause of Christ.
Do you think Paul was ever satisfied with the level of ministry he was accomplishing? If he was, he probably would have rested while behind prison walls. Honestly, if it had been you . . . do you think you might have sulked and pouted at this unpleasant turn of events? “Lord,” we might well whine, “I did all that great ministry for You, and this is what I get?!” Yet we know that most of what Paul contributed to the New Testament was written while he was in chains. He never stopped pressing on toward the goal.
Paul never grew complacent about his relationship with Jesus. We know that his heart continually ached to be in the presence of his Lord, yet he knew he still had work to do, because God had not called him home. Paul was not subject to the cruel current of complacency.
What about you? There are so many areas in life where we can grow complacent. Here are just a few:
- After many years of marriage
- When we have finally climbed the ladder of career success
- When we have reached a comfortable level of service in our church
The call to every Christian is to continually press on and pursue God’s perfect plan for our lives. And those who are His by faith know we never reach our final destination until we get to the other side. The cruel current of complacency is not to be the mark of the committed Christian.
It has been wisely said, “It is far better to burn out than rust out!” Now, I am not encouraging burn out; if you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you’ve seen that happen to great men and women of God who did not find balance in life. Remember that a life without balance leads to an unbalanced life.
But let me close by encouraging every member of the church to be active in playing their part, straining forward until the moment they are no longer needed . . . and that will be the moment when God calls us home.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!