If I were to ask you are you a complacent person, what would you say? Many of you might take the question as a compliment confusing it with being a peaceful content sort of guy. You would be wrong! Allow me to tell you the Webster’s definition of complacency: self- satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. This definition doesn’t really sound like anything I want to be, especially as a Christian man. Being self-satisfied borders on prideful, and unawareness of actual (not imaginary) dangers and deficiencies borders on foolish. Neither of these characteristics, foolish or prideful, should characterize a follower of Christ. In scripture we are admonished to be just the opposite. We are to be humble, yet wise. So, what’s the big deal? We can agree as Christians that being that complacent fellow is not who we want to be. So what is a little complacency going to hurt? I hope to show you that it is a big deal and being complacent can be very costly!
In our modern culture we struggle just to survive sometimes. We are constantly bombarded daily with choices to make and issues to tackle. Even or maybe more so by a Christian man, we persistently have to look for truth. We as Christians have God’s word to help us, but I believe that the world can sometimes twist the truth to the point of being overloaded with information to consider. I am sure you agree. One of the greatest tragedies of this new age culture is becoming complacent. We are so overcome by political correctness and popular opinion that we can easily fall prey to just going along. What if they do this or that, it doesn’t affect me. Or, oh well, it’s not that bad! These illusions are examples of unawareness of danger. The cost of complacency can be high. Very high!
In this study I hope to reveal to you the cost of complacency in our time and the future effects, the era when our children will deal with the consequences of our complacency. If we learn now, perhaps we can deal with it correctly, and lower the high price for ourselves and our children. Complacency is not a new product of our post modern theology, it has been around for a long time. It has always been costly, perhaps in different ways in another culture, but still a high price to pay. We will look at complacency from a distant past, not too long ago, and the present age. With these perspectives perhaps we can preview the cost of complacency in the future. Armed with awareness of future dangers we can avoid the pride of self-satisfaction and not allow ourselves to become complacent.
If you will take your bibles, turn to 1Samuel, Chapter 27. Here we find a story of complacency from long ago. We will discover how complacency was allowed, its very high cost, and hopefully its cure. If you read Chapters 27-30, the entire story of how David, the King of Israel, allowed complacency to seep into his life. His complacency reveals how even a great man of God, can become complacent and the high consequences he and others would pay for his pride and foolishness. We will now examine the details of the story.
David has been chosen by God and annointed by Samuel the prophet to be Israel’s next king. Saul the current king in his own prideful sin to keep the kingdom for himself and his heirs begins a hunt to end David’s life. After a few harrowing episodes, David convinces Saul that he is not a threat to Saul. Saul and David part ways, still not trusting each other, but in different places. This is where our story begins in Chapter 27. In the first verse the two-fold trap of complacency becomes evident in David’s life. He “thought to himself ” and decided to go to the land of the Philistines to hide from Saul. David’s self-satisfaction that he could protect himself rather than trusting God to keep His chosen king safe led to David’s choice to hide in the land of Israel’s greatest enemy with no awareness of the danger of living there. This is the model of complacency. Not only did David’s complacency put him in danger but also his 600 loyal men and their families.
David made his home in the middle of the Philistines, Israel and God’s enemy, and a stone throw away from the band of “ite” tribes (Amalekites, Girzites, Geshurites). These people had been waring with Israel since Joshua led them into Canaan. Yet in his pride and foolishness, David felt no danger and was satisfied. David continued in his complacent behavior and added lying, deception, and manipulation to ensure his safety. He convinced the king of the Philistines he was his friend by raiding the “ite” bands but saying he got the spoils from raiding Hebrew outskirt villages. When the time came for a showdown between the Philistines and the Israel nation, David deceived the Philistine king and pretended to be ready to fight against his own people. David and his 600 men sat around with the Philistines for three days, probably retelling the pebble story, while waiting to fight the army of Saul. By God’s intervention, the Philistine commanders sent David and his men back home, so they did not have to fight. It is quite imaginable that David was really full of himself by now. The ruse had worked.
David had been complacent, self-satisfied and foolish. Complacency has a very high cost. 1Samuel 30:3 says, ” When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.” Then David became aware of the actual danger and pride of his complacency, so did his men. His sinful, foolishness of trusting himself ,not his God, led to this bitter awakening. The scripture tells us that David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. We see vividly the picture of complacency and the cost it will demand at some point. David had lost all that was dear to him, and he realized his mistake.
In the remaining verses of Chapter 30, we find the cure to David’s complacency and ours. Repentance, turning from his sin, and turning back to his God was David’s cure. The scripture says, “But David found strength in the Lord his God.” David having repented with his bitter tears, turned to trust his God again, and “David inquired of the Lord.” David was content to trust God now and ask Him what he should do. God graciously instructed David of what he should do, and David and his men were successful in that plan. They overtook the raiders, killing most of them. They rescued their families and recovered all that had been taken. The Bible tells us that nothing was lost or missing, and they even got more by taking what the raiders had also. David recognized God had given them the extra above their loss and he shared it with the neighboring Hebrew tribes. His gratitude of being rescued from his complacency was evident to all.
There is alot to learn from this story of David in the Old Testament. It should encourage us to realize the importance of scripture from long ago. This was an actual event, real people were hurt and lives changed forever due to one man’s complacency. David was a man after God’s own heart, but he too was lulled into complacency and had to pay a high price for his sin. This story was given to us for a reason, and we would do well to learn its lesson. The cost of complacency was very high in that time and is so today. We saw self-satisfaction, unawareness, dangers, deficiencies, and cost in this old story. We also saw a cure for complacency. In the next part of our study we will examine other scriptures that were given to us to battle complacency and also look at some insights about complacency to increase our awareness of danger and the high cost of complacency.