I will punish the men who are complacent . . . Zephaniah 1:12
Those who find a genuine recovery, but then go on to relapse, often have a similar story to tell. At first, in the midst of some misery, the addict vows to change, and he does . . . for a while. He may complete treatment and often goes to weekly recovery meetings. He turns to God and he makes significant life changes that steer him towards sobriety.
Predictably, in pursuing recovery, the addict does well. In his success, he does what most of us do in our success. He takes his foot off the gas and he becomes complacent. As one skipped meeting turns to two, the dark thoughts creep in. I could probably have just one drink. Then, when the moment is right (or wrong), he does. He may seem successful in moderation for a time, but eventually, he naturally returns to slavery. Just one, inevitably leads back to active addiction.
Back in the misery, the addict looks around and asks, What happened? How did I return here? The painful truth of course, is that the addict didn’t have to do anything to get to where his destructive nature wants to go. To find himself once again enslaved, all the addict had to do . . . was nothing. Complacency, or doing nothing, leads the addict straight back to behavior that kills everything he loves.
In today’s passage, Zephaniah predicted the painful consequences of complacency. Jesus Christ insisted that we must deny ourselves daily (Luke 9:23). Paul commanded that we must continually put to death our destructive appetites (Colossians 3:5). The Christian life, like the addict’s, is meant to be anything but complacent. The Christian life is a war (1 Peter 2:11), in which we are called to fight daily.
We do this by making a conscious effort to daily turn from our destructive behavior to pursue God’s will. This is supposed to be the normal day for those following Christ, and if we aren’t doing it, we have embraced complacency, the continual enemy of spiritual growth. If we want to fail, all we have to do . . . is nothing. If we want to know recovery and faith though, we must daily abandon ourselves and follow God.