Published on February 21st, 2009 | by Alex and Brett Harris
A Lukewarm Attitude of Complacency
The fourth installment of our Not Too Young to Die series has been a long-time in coming, but I’m happy to announce that we are now back on track. If you haven’t read the first three installments, use the links at the bottom of this post to catch up.
In our last installment, Your Life Story, we discussed three marks of a tragically wasted life. Today’s post looks at the first: a lukewarm attitude of complacency. Here is one of the best descriptions of complacency that I’ve come across:
“Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. ‘Good enough’ becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course — downhill. They draw false strength from looking back.”
For Christians this often reveals itself when we become satisfied avoiding evil, but not pursuing good. Psalm 1 tells us that “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, no stands in the way of sinners, no sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night.”
Charles Spurgeon comments, “Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you — is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God’s Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand, your best companion and hourly guide? If not, the blessing of Psalm 1 does not belong to you.”
This is important, because we’re often tempted to sign-up for a less “extreme” version of the Christian life. Instead of the Platinum “Jim Elliot” Membership, we like the sound of the Bronze “Joe Christian” Membership. Less benefits, but less effort. Sounds good, right? But Scripture doesn’t leave that option open to us.
Writes C.S. Lewis: “It is hard; but the sort of compromise we’re hankering after is harder — in fact, it is impossible. We are like eggs at present. And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”
In other words, we can’t just go on being ordinary, decent Christians, giving God part of our lives while holding back the rest. Either we are hatched and learn to fly or we are a dud that will soon start to stink.
The first mark of a tragically wasted life is complacency.
Some questions for discussion:
- Read the description of complacency above. What “symptoms” of complacency do you see in your own life?
- Are you known for what you don’t do, or for what you do? Why do you think it’s easier to just avoid evil than to pursue righteousness? [Note: Tasha has posted an excellent response to this question. Check it out!]
- In the words of C.S. Lewis, are you trying to just be an ordinary, decent egg? What would it take for you to “hatch and learn to fly?”
- Katie’s “Bonus” Question from the Comment Section: What is the difference between contentment and complacency?