Contentment Versus Complacency

A few weeks ago, I was giving a lot of thought to stagnant water. Perhaps all of the rain we have had over the past few months was finally getting to me, but I found myself staring at a little ponding of water near the end of my driveway. It had no where to go. The hole was created when someone drove off the road and into my yard as they came into our neighborhood.

This hole had filled with water, but because of it’s shape, it had nowhere to go. No groove existed for the water to escape out. It just sat there. Some leaves leftover from the fall had found their way to this hole and dirt had colored the water a dark brown. It looked gross.

It’s easy for us to picture how unhealthy it would be to drink out of a puddle like this. Most of us would instinctively know that you wouldn’t look at that dirty puddle and go grab a straw. But how many of us drink from stagnant waters in our spiritual lives?

Many of us have what I am going to term, “Complacency of the Soul.” To define that, Complacency of the Soul is when our spiritual life has become stagnant and we have become satisfied with things that are less than God’s ideal for our lives.

Now, this is different that being content. God wants us content. The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi and tells them that he has learned to be content in whatever situation he has found himself in.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for 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

Paul also tells Timothy that there is “great gain in godliness with contentment” in his first letter to Timothy (6:6). Contentment in the Lord is a good thing. God wants to be our sole source for all of our needs, both physical and spiritual. He wants us to be content with Him. What he doesn’t want is for us to grow complacent.

Complacency is an enemy of growth. If we want to see growth in our lives, we cannot afford to grow complacent. When we are complacent in our spiritual lives, we are like that puddle I described earlier, we have created a place for the water of the spirit to puddle up in our lives instead of a river bed for it to flow through. We are not meant to take what God has given us and just hold on to it. We were created to be channels of his Spirit. As He pours into us, we should be pouring into others.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

John 7:37-38

Jesus tells his disciples that our hearts are meant to channel water, not hold it in. Jesus doesn’t tell them they are to become lakes of fresh water, or ponds of dirty water, but rivers of living water. Rivers bring life to wherever they flow. And in the desert area that many of the disciples grew up in, they understood the power of a river and what it meant to be near that water.

Where I live in the eastern United States, we likely take water for granted. We get plenty of rain and have plenty of rivers around us bringing water, but the disciples of Jesus didn’t have this issue. They knew how scarce water was when leaving in that area. Water meant life. And whole communities were built around a clean water source.

If we want our spiritual lives to become a river rather than a puddle, we have to find ways to pour out what God has given us. And the biggest need is for us to take time to love on our neighbors. Right now depression and anxiety are at all time highs because of the pandemic. We should be offering people hope and love. Our spiritual rivers should be flowing out toward our communities and loved ones. Now is not the time to hold our love in or to hold back when it comes to being salt and light in this world. Christians need to let the river flow.

One of the ways that I break up complacency in my own life is the institute some sort of change. Find a way to break the monotony of your daily routines. If you do the same things every day or every week, it’s easy to look back and see that you’ve become complacent. If you read your bible every morning, perhaps trying reading it at night too. If you aren’t involved with a small group at your church, get involved. If you go out to eat with the same people all of the time, invite someone new along. Find a way to bring some change into your life.

The other suggestion I would have is to diligently seek ways to share what God is speaking to you. Sometimes you have to seek out “open doors” of opportunity. Sometimes you have to knock on those same doors. Sometimes you will need to get creative. Write a blog, start a podcast or a YouTube channel. If you diligently seek ways to serve Him, He will open up doors that you never knew existed. Get ready. He will supply everything you need if you are faithful to give it all away.

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Proverbs 13:4

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