Scripture Reading: Zephaniah 1-3; Malachi 3:14-15
“At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.'” – Zephaniah 1:12
According to Merriam-Webster, complacency is “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” This is a perfect definition for this word in its usage in this passage as well as its purpose in this post. I remember quite vividly my dad always warning me not to become complacent in basketball. He was always urging me to improve and always be ready for any situation that any game could produce. When I would get lazy and not practice or workout, I would hear those words: “Do not become complacent!” In other words, realize your deficiencies. Understand your weaknesses in this game and work on them diligently in order to improve. I was so prone to become complacent in basketball as I didn’t heed his warnings and I acted as if everything he told me was futile. While I did have success when I played, the more complacent I became, the less I improved. My improvement started to cease toward the end of my high school career as my complacency led to laziness and therefore an unfruitful game, season, etc.
This Old Testament passage in the prophetic book of Zephaniah teaches us a lot about our relationship with God and reveals to us His character and desires. God is warning the people of Judah as well as other foreign nations of the judgment that is to come because of their sin and lack of repentance. Through the prophet Zephaniah, God speaks of a day that is coming (Day of the Lord) in which there will be judgment and blessing for those opposed to God and those who have humbled themselves before Him to follow Him, respectively. In this description of the coming wrath of God against God’s people, we see a great sin that these Judeans had taken part in. I fear that many in the church today are involved in this same sin.
God was searching out the people of Jerusalem to find those men who were complacent in order to punish them. God was angered by this complacency and was seeking to punish those who were taking part in it. While God had already brought judgment down on these peoples as they were about to be taken into exile, they still refused to repent of their sins against God. While they claimed to be the people of God, they blasphemed His name and completely defamed Him by relying on self-satisfaction while ignoring their need to repent. Because of their complacency, they were turning a blind eye to their deficiencies and not heeding the warnings and coming judgment of God. They took this so far as to say that “The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.” Of course they would never claim to believe this, yet it doesn’t matter what their lips utter because their hearts speak differently. God alone knows and judges the hearts of men. This statement uttered by the hearts of these men indicates that they see no point in obeying God as they are in a sense denying His ongoing activity in blessing or punishment. While they do not deny God’s existence, they may as well for they deny He is active in the world despite seeing His acts of wrath against Israel as they were in exile. This line of thinking and believing led them into complacency and lethargy. Why repent if God does not punish nor reward? If this is true, it must be vain to serve the Lord and worship Him (Malachi 3:14-15). This is a very dangerous, destructive, and ultimately damning line of thinking. The reality is, there will be a day that will come in which there will be eternal punishment for the unrighteous and eternal blessing for the righteous.
I wonder how many people of God today are complacent. After seeing how little our young people (in general) know about God and what they are claiming to believe, I would say the number of complacent believers is very high. There is a lack of teaching, discipling, and local and global evangelism in our churches. With all of these absent or at least ineffective, what is the church doing? I feel countless church members are complacent in their faith. They do not see a purpose in obeying the commands of Christ. They feel it is futile to disciple others because let’s be honest, that takes time, effort, and maybe a little thing called prayer. Sure, we will show up and worship God (just as these people of God in Jerusalem were doing) once per week, but we do not find out satisfaction in Him. We are self-satisfied and do not desire any more of Him when we are complacent. I feel that complacency is blinding so many in our churches to feel they have no need to repent of this or even other sins. When we become satisfied in ourselves, we miss out on the true satisfaction of God. In essence, when we behave in and feel this way we are not glorifying God, but instead glorifying ourselves. The result: God’s anger and judgment. Our answer: forgivness through Jesus Christ. He is our great redeemer and He has provided us a way to be supremely satisfied in Him as He makes us righteous in God’s sight. God punishes the complacent for they glorify self over God. Do not rob Him of His deserved glory. He doesn’t need us, on the contrary, we desperately need Him. God sees our hearts and no matter what kind of facade we put up, He knows our inner feelings and thoughts. It doesn’t matter how much you attend worship services or church activities, if your satisfaction is not found in Him and you feel a lacking of a need to repent, you are most definately complacent and this angers God.
Realize your need for His forgiveness because of your obvious moral deficiencies. He desires your satisfaction to be in Him for this brings Him great glory. Do not be complacent in your faith, but instead realize that the mission He has called us to as His people is well worth all risk, devotion, effort, and time. For the joy of all peoples and the glory of God we as the church should carry out His mission to make His name known among all peoples of all nations. Disciple those in your church who are young in the faith. Beware complacency for there will be a day of judgment and God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Make no mistake about it; those who have been made righteous in God’s sight by Jesus Christ’s perfect life, obedient death, and glorious resurrection will find their supreme satisfaction in Him alone. God becomes their treasure and their joy is found in Him. An absence of this begs the question whether a conversion experience has occured at worst and at least there is obvious complacency. If you are complacent in your faith I want to encourage you to repent and turn to God for this was His desire for His people in Israel and this is His desire for His people the Church today. A complacent faith is self-satisfying and therefore self-glorifying. A fruitful faith is God-satisfying and therefore God-glorifying. Be satisfied in God today and allow Him to grow your faith as you obediently and radically follow Him.
By His Grace & For His Glory