Bible Question:

How does one combat complacency in other Christians, especially here in America where it is easy to be “Christian”?

Bible Answer:

Complacency among Christians was a problem even when the apostles were alive. The apostles warned those who claimed to be Christians to examine themselves to see if they were real.

The Symptom

One of the best known warnings about complacency is found in Revelation 3.

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (NASB) Rev. 3:14-16

The meaning of this passage is usually missed. These verses do not reveal the real problem, they only reveal the symptom. The Laodiceans were not criticized because they did nothing. Nor were they being criticized for being too zealous for the Lord. They were criticized for having an attitude like the world. Jesus was not the passion of their hearts. Here is an interesting verse from the book of Ecclesiastes.

Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked, and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? (NASB) Eccelesiastes 7:16-17

This is not divine wisdom because the book of Ecclesiastes presents the wisdom of the world from a non-Christian viewpoint starting at Eccl 1:2 and ending at Eccl. 12:6. Only the ending is divine wisdom. Therefore, we should not be surprised that the attitude reflected in these two verses is very common in our world. It says, “Do what you think is right when your conscience permits and go ahead and sin when your passions urge you on. Do not be excessively righteous or wicked otherwise you will not have any fun.” Increasingly, Christians are acting more and more like non-Christians.

A growing reason given today among Christians is that we need to understand our world and not be to different in order to witness to them. One sad example of this occurred several years ago when a large group of pastors met for a conference in a hotel in the United States. The newspapers reported that during that conference the hotel had more requests for pornographic movies than at any previous conference in their history. The pastors had bought out the hotel. Even some “spiritual leaders” do not want to be “hot.”

The Problem

What was the problem with the folks at Laodicea? The answer is found in verse 17.

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” (NASB) Rev. 3:17

Of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, only the church in Laodicea receives this warning. The people going to this church felt they had “need of nothing.” The problem is their wealth. How much wealth is too much? Abraham was an extremely wealthy Old Testament saint and yet scripture has great things to say about him. In fact, Christians are never told to give away their possessions of money.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. (NASB) 1 Tim. 6:17-19

But wealthy Christians are told to fix their hope on God. Complacency results from getting our eyes off God onto our world. That can happen no matter how much or how little one has. It is just easier to let this happen the more one has. Complacency occurs when we get our eyes off Jesus.


God’s warning to the church in Laodicea is to forget their wealth and seek His wealth.

I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. (NASB) Rev. 3:18-20

The warning is simple. Get your eyes off of things and on to God. Jesus even challenges them to come and believe in Him. Complacency is a great warning sign. It is one symptom of a non-Christian among Christians. Tares among the wheat. How does one combat complacency in other Christians? It starts with a warning, followed by a challenge to believe in Christ, and followed by a challenge for Christians to share some of their wealth with others.