Proverbs 1

Killed By Complacency.

“That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way. They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen. For they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death. They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them.” ­– Proverbs 1:31-32 NLT

We’re all familiar with the verse in this proverb that says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7 NLT). But it goes on and reminds us, “Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.” It seems clear when reading this proverb and virtually every other one, that to live without a fear of God is to reject the wisdom He offers through His Word. It is to live the life of a fool. I used to think the fool was some poor soul whose elevator didn’t go all the way to the top floor, who was a few bricks short of a full load. He was the guy who just couldn’t help doing foolish things. In most cases, I thought the fool was describing the typical non-believer. He was lost and without God in his life, so he ended up doing foolish things. But the more I read and studied Proverbs, the more convinced I became that the fool can just as easily be describing the typical believer. Essentially, a fool is someone who lives his life as if there is no God. I can believe in God and still live as if He doesn’t exist. I can act in ways that are contrary to His commands and do so with a belief that He doesn’t see what I am doing. I can say things that are offensive to His ears, but do so as if I believe He doesn’t hear me. To live as if God doesn’t see me or hear me is to live the life of a fool. To ignore His teaching, reject His discipline, or to fail to seek His counsel is to live like a fool.

You can have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and still eat the bitter fruit of living your own way. You can choose to ignore what Christ taught. You can decide to live your life according to your own terms. You can neglect the reading of your Bible and miss out on hearing from God, and end up experiencing the full terror of the path you have chosen. Solomon puts it this way: “Their own complacency will destroy them.” That word translated “complacency” is rich in meaning. Positively, it can mean quietness, ease, or prosperity. But in this context, Solomon seems to be using its more negative meaning, which refers to a smugness, self-sufficiency, complacency or even careless security that can take over our lives when we think we have everything we need without God. In his commentary on Proverbs, C. H. Toy describes it as a “repose gained by ignoring or neglecting the serious responsibilities of life.” Our complacency as Christians can end up killing us. It can lull us into a dangerous sense of well-being. We can get so satisfied with our lives as they are, that we end up neglecting God’s Word. We spend little or no time in it. And if we don’t read  God’s Word it is impossible to hear from the one who wrote it. And if we don’t hear from Him, how are we supposed to obey Him? Our self-sufficiency ends up being self-destructive.

I reminds me of what God had to say to the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation. “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy gold from me — gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Revelation 3:17-19 NLT). Indifference. Complacency. Self-sufficiency. Smugness. They are all characteristics of the fool. That individual who has decided that he has no need of God’s wisdom as revealed in His Word, no awareness of God’s constant presence, no desire to hear what God may think of his plans, and no concept that his self-sufficiency is actually destroying him. “…they are simpletons who turn away from me — to death. They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32 NLT).

Father, I have lived the life of the fool so often it’s embarrassing. I have rejected or even ignored Your Word altogether. I have acted as if You don’t even exist. I have become satisfied with my life as it was and unwilling to make the changes You have lovingly suggested. I have become complacent, smug, and self-sufficient far too often. Yet I know that Your wisdom is worth pursuing. It is more valuable than anything else I can pursue in life. Give me an increasing desire to seek Your wisdom. May Your Word become increasingly more satisfying to me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men