Read 2 Kings 21, Zephaniah 1, and John 13 today. This devotional is about Zephaniah 1.
The prophets and the historical books of the Old Testament document for us centuries of idolatry, injustice to the poor, violence, sexual misconduct, and many other sins among the people of God. God’s punishment for these sins came when the Assyrians defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel and–later–the Babylonians defeated the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
But God was not only displeased by the sins of his people; he was also angry about the lack of spiritual desire and growth among the people. In verse 12 here in Zephaniah 1 God said, “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent…” A complacent person is one who is stagnant. It is a person who is not growing or getting stronger; instead, the complacent person has given up. He or she is someone who has concluded that “the way it is” is “the way it will be.”
The next three phrases in verse 12 tell us that the complacent “are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’” They think, “God won’t judge us” but also “God isn’t going to bless us.” They are resigned to the situation as it is and have no expectation that it will get better or worse.
The reality is, however, that unless you are striving to get better, things are getting worse. You know this as an adult; your level of physical fitness declines as you get older unless you work on getting stronger and fitter. Your diet may stay the same for years but your health does not stay the same; it gets poorer. It may take a long time before it gets really bad, but it won’t get better without effort.
The Bible teaches us to be content but that is not at all the same as being complacent. Contentment means being satisfied with the results God gives you for your work and your effort. It is the opposite of being jealous or envious or materialistic; it is not the opposite of working hard or striving for improvement. God sees complacency as a sin to be addressed as well (see verse 13). It isn’t the same as idolatry but neither one is glorifying to God.
Where in your life are you complacent? Have you put your ministry in our church on autopilot? By that I mean that you’re still showing up and doing it but not with the same level of excellence or creativity or heart that you once had?
Is your walk with God hindered by complacency? How about your family life or your financial health? Is it your physical body or your work that you’ve given up on?
Complacency stems from a lack of faith. The last phrase of verse 12 teaches the mindset of the complacent; this person thinks, “The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.” That’s the motto of a man or woman who doesn’t expect anything from God–either judgment or blessing. Is that where you are?
What would your life be like if you expected to be disciplined by the Lord for your sin or to be blessed by him for your faithfulness? Repent of your complacency and ask God to breathe fresh life into your life by faith.