Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign — and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!
1 Corinthians 4:8
The seat of the problem at Corinth was their love of human wisdom, their hunger for the approval of the world, and the pride they took in their own accomplishments that they felt merited that approval. There were several things Paul saw in Corinth that told the story for him: He had seen the divisions among them. Here was a congregation split up into little cliques gathering around certain teachers. Then they were telling everyone how great a church they were, how tremendous were their meetings, and taking credit for it themselves as though it were something they had thought of and planned and worked out. There was jealous strife and infighting in the congregation and the leadership, and finally, there was this complacent spirit. There were a lot of exciting things going on, but they had a complacency and smug satisfaction with being the way they were.
What do complacent Christians look like? Paul indicates it is a sense that they have arrived. You meet people like that today. There are some who seem to feel as though they have it made; they have learned the whole truth; there is nothing you can tell them that they have not already learned; they think of themselves as rich.
There are a lot of things that can give a Christian a sense of being rich and make him complacent. At Laodicea it was because of material possessions. “We are increased with goods,” they said, “and have need of nothing. We have a tremendous budget; we have plenty of money; we can do what we want; we do not even need God any more,” (Revelation 3:17). They were priding themselves on how affluent they were and that gave them a sense of complacency so that the Lord had to say to them, “You have no idea what you are really like — you are poor and blind, pitiable and naked, and spiritually poverty-stricken.” Affluence can do that to a church.
Sometimes it is prominence that gives that sense of complacency. Perhaps you attend a large church that is known all over the world and has a reputation as a missionary church, a Bible-teaching church, and people in the congregation soon begin to think, “We have arrived; we have no further to go,” and the pride of complacency begins to appear. At Corinth, however, the problem was none of these: the problem here was they were complacent over possessing all the gifts of the Spirit — they had them all. There are probably 21 or more gifts of the Spirit that can be detected in the Scriptures, and all of them were present in Corinth. Now that is rather amazing because today we are being told that the trouble with the church is that it does not have enough knowledge and practice and experience with the gifts of the Spirit. But here was a church that had them all. They had tongues, and with it they had miracles and healings and prophesies plus a lot of what they regarded as lesser gifts — the gifts of helps and administrations, wisdom and knowledge, teaching, service, and giving. All the gifts were present. That was what was making them feel complacent: they felt rich because they had all the gifts of the Spirit and so they were self-satisfied.
I am sure their meetings were interesting. Nobody wanted to stay away because they had lots of things happening, but the church was in danger, and Paul saw it, and wrote to them to point this out. That is the mark of a complacent Christian: the feeling that we have arrived.
Father, thank you for a father’s love that rebukes and chastens. “Those whom I love I rebuke and chasten.” Help me to cleanse my life of whatever introduces the sense of complacency and pride.
Has affluence in any area of our lives resulted in complacency, or self-satisfaction? Are we aware of the serious erosion in our worship and serving? Are we ready to be re-routed into authentic and effective discipleship?