Complacency and Pride
During a discussion on the topic
of faith, one youth posed a question about overcoming complacency and pride in our
faith and service to God. As youths who are beginning to have responsibilities
in church, we may easily develop a sense of self-confidence and
self-entitlement towards our faith. We become comfortable with our spiritual
lives because we are always in church—we attend every service and fellowship,
and we do many good deeds. Our peaceful lives and our service to God make us
feel as though we are right in our faith and better placed than others who
don't do as much as we. But if we harbor such complacency, it can result in
pride. In order to overcome complacency and pride, we must understand the
biblical views and adopt the mind-set of humility.
HOW DOES COMPLACENCY DEVELOP INTO PRIDE?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “complacency”
and “pride” as follows:
Complacency: “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own
abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.”
Pride: “the feelings of your own self-worth, the
belief that you are better or more important than other people.”
Complacency develops when we
become satisfied with our spiritual life. We are comfortable with the position
we are in—this may include our faith, our relationship with God, our service in
church—and we see no need to improve.
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who
commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing
themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Cor 10:12)
Here, Paul talks about a group of
proud people in the church at Corinth who commended themselves by comparing themselves
with others. Likewise, when we are complacent, we tend to compare ourselves
with others within the community of faith. And when we compare, we open a
gateway into pride and downfall. We see ourselves as strong, and others, who are
not like us, as weak. Paul warns that such comparison is not wise, since the yardstick
they used to judge is their own.
Instead, the standard of God
should be our yardstick. Jesus tells us that we are known by the fruits we bear:
a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree bears bad fruit (Mt 7:16–20). Bearing good
fruit distinguishes us as the disciples of Jesus and brings glory to God (Jn
15:8). The Bible repeatedly emphasizes on spiritual growth and cultivation
through bearing fruit. It is our duty as disciples of Jesus to strive for spiritual
perfection and to be more like Him.
With this understanding, we can reflect
on the question: Does simply attending every church event cause us to bear good
fruit and make us better than those who do not attend?
In order to bear fruit, the Bible
tells us that we must walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), be led by the Spirit (Gal
5:18) as well as hear and understand the word (Mt 13:23).
First, we must submit to the Spirit. Submission requires humility to deny
ourselves and realize our own weaknesses. During His life on earth, Jesus
declared that “the Son can do nothing of Himself” (Jn 5:19) and that it is “the
Father who dwells in Me [who] does the works” (Jn 14:10). Similarly, we cannot
grow and bear fruit without God, just as a branch cannot bear fruit without the
vine (Jn 15:1–8). Without God’s Spirit, we are merely
flesh and naturally, can only produce the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19–21), which are contrary to the Spirit.
is the first step towards humility—every fruit we bear
is through God and from God. This applies to both our service to God and our
faith. Humility also helps us to recognize God’s great love and grace; He
provides us with His Spirit to enable us to serve and to grow, although we are
sinful beings of the flesh.
Next, to bear
fruit, we must subject to and be led by the Spirit. We need to live an active
spiritual life, hand in hand with God, allowing the Spirit to guide us in all
that we do. God’s Spirit enables us to act according to God’s principles and
live a holy life. Through constant prayers, we will be strengthened by God, despite
the challenges we may face in our daily lives and in our service to God.
Finally, to bear
fruit we must hear and understand God’s word. On top of attending services and diligently
studying the Bible, we need to ponder over the Scriptures’ teachings and apply
them in our daily lives. By doing so, we will not only have faith but we will
also have works. Through humility in spiritual cultivation, God will allow our
fruits to grow.
By understanding the standards of God and maintaining a humble mind-set, we can
quench complacency before it begins and prevent pride from developing in us.
In his epistles, Paul shared how he
overcame pride from complacency. Paul was a mighty apostle who worked zealously
for God. It would have been reasonable for people to look up to him, follow him
as a spiritual leader, and praise him for his faith. Such accolades could have easily
made Paul proud. But what did he actually think?
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an
apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am
what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more
abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1
Paul understood that because of
his past, he was unworthy to serve God or be called an apostle. He knew that it
was only by God’s grace that he became an apostle and could serve the way he did.
This self-realization as well as the love and mercy of God motivated him to
labor for the Lord’s ministry. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul reiterated that
he was the least of all believers, and that it was only through God’s grace that
he could preach (Eph 3:8). This was Paul’s humility.
Taking every opportunity to attend
services and fellowships, and to participate in church work is good and plays a
key role in spiritual cultivation. But if we are not vigilant, we will easily fall
into the complacency trap. And when we allow complacency to develop, it will
lead to pride.
Conversely, if we understand that
God’s standards are far above ours, we will pursue spiritual growth through
spiritual cultivation; we will never feel complacent, but will strive to bear
fruit for the glory of God. Ultimately, the key to overcoming complacency and
pride is humility, acknowledging that everything we do, from serving to bearing
fruit, is through the hand of God. Like Jesus and Apostle Paul, with humility, we
submit to the Spirit and lead a fruitful life filled with goodness, righteousness,
and truth (Eph 5:9).
Once we are able to bear fruit,
the Lord will delight in us (Ps 147:11; 149:4). May God guide us to examine
ourselves (2 Cor 13:5) and to ensure that we don't compare ourselves with
others according to man's standards; rather, let us grow with humility in the
light of His word.