During a discussion about faith, an anonymous member asked me about complacency in servitude and faith, and how to overcome it. Often, we find that as youths who begin to have responsibilities in church, or are becoming introduced to ‘leadership’ roles, it is very easy to develop a sense of self-confidence, or self-entitlement towards our faith. We may start to feel a sense of being slightly above others, or that we are ‘better’ than others simply because we have been appointed various roles within church and attend more activities in church. We feel as if we are fine in our faith, and that others should imitate us. Often if we allow complacency to stay in our hearts, it can take root and bear fruit as pride.
So I shared with this member my personal experience. I said: personally, to keep complacency from having a hold on me, every time I kneel down and pray, I reflect on my past. I reflect on how I used to be, what I used to do, and that it is only through the grace of God, through His love and mercy that I am able to become who I am today. I know inside that I was unworthy to receive a second chance, yet God forgave me, accepted me back and even allowed me to serve as I do today. When I think like this, I know that it is only through the grace of God that I am able to serve, or even to step foot into church to worship. This allows the love of God to touch me personally through my own experiences and drives me to serve Him, for His name and for His church.
I know personally that, as a human, I am weak in strength and faith. However, I also know that when I pray and ask God for strength, He strengthens me. Whenever I feel stressed, burdened, in difficult situations, or pushed to the limit, I pray (not once or twice but constantly) and know God will give me the strength to overcome not by my own faith but by His might. When I do this, I know I have no right to have any self-confidence or self-entitlement because everything is through the mighty hand of God: I overcome not through my faith but because He strengthens me. I also know that because no one is perfect, everyone is a work in progress. Therefore, everyone has different attributes, strengths and weaknesses that we can learn from. If this is the case, no one is better than another.
Actually, later on I recalled that Paul also talked about this in his letters. We all know that Paul was in fact a mighty apostle for God. People could’ve looked up to him, people could’ve said that he was a leader, people could’ve praised him for his faith. However, how did he 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 Cor 15:9-10)
Thank the Lord for allowing me to understand this teaching. Paul could’ve raised himself up and received all the glory in pride and rode on his apostleship in complacency. However, he understood that because of his past, he himself was unworthy to serve God or even to be called an apostle. He understood that it was only by the grace of God that he transformed to become who he was, and it was only by the grace of God that he served how he served. Because of this, the love and mercy of God drove him to labour.
He repeats the fact that he was the least of all in Ephesians 3, and that it was only through the grace of God he could preach. If we have this kind of thinking, then we know that our servitude for God is not through our own abilities but by the grace of God. It also reminds us that because we are sinners, we are no better than anyone else. When we feel that we are better than others in faith, remember that actually, everyone has their own weaknesses including us. Just because we have been appointed a particular role does not mean we are any better than other people. Just because we attend many fellowships doesn’t mean we are any more faithful than those who don’t.
Paul also goes on to say his famous phrase, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). Through this phrase, he tells us that when he is physically under tribulation, he is physically weak. However, because he prays to God and relies on the grace of God, and God gives him strength to make him strong and able to overcome. This is not by his own strength but through the might of God. Realistically, as humans, we are naturally weak. However, by whole-heartedly trusting and relying on God and His grace, we can receive strength from Him.
Therefore, when we have our focus on God, and realize that everything we have comes from the grace of God, everything from being able to walk through the doors of church all the way to being able to serve in the ways we do, then it is hard for complacency to creep into our hearts because our focus is on Him and not ourselves.