Bible Scriptures to Help You Overcome Complacency

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Get Out of Your Head" by Jennie Allen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is said about complacency in the bible? How can you manage complacency?

In her book Get Out of Your Head, Jennie Allen argues that complacency leads to a useless and ultimately soul-killing life of self-indulgence and mediocrity. Here are some key complacency bible scriptures and some tips for managing complacency.

Keep reading for examples of complacency in the bible.

Complacency in the Bible

Complacency is a state of listless passivity in which you find comfort in mediocrity and the status quo while you indulge your own whims and feel your passion for God fade away.

Some typical thoughts associated with complacency include the following. Look for these in your own mind:

  • I have nothing to offer.
  • I deserve some “me time.”
  • Let someone else do it.

Your weapon against complacency is intentional service, a choice to work for the good of other people instead of fixating on your own comfort and contentment. This relates to the battle with self-importance, but the focus here is different. In the battle against complacency, the enemy isn’t self-inflation (although it’s related to it) but self-indulgence.

The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is that you’re free to live for yourself, to do whatever you want to do. This lie comes out in thought patterns that say things such as:

  • What do I want and need?
  • What do I feel like doing? 
  • What will make me happier, more comfortable, more content?
  • What will make me look good and sound smart?

Complacency becomes a dangerous addiction. This relates back to the battle against distraction: Spiritually, you’re never in “neutral gear.” You’re always moving one direction or the other. So if you’re not becoming holier, which takes effort (enabled by grace), then you’re automatically drifting toward wordliness, which becomes a self-reinforcing spiral. Allen’s own experience illustrates the point. During her spiritual crisis, she traded her passion to serve others for epic binges on Netflix, social media, sugar, and dark emotions. These distractions blunted her spiritual zeal even as she craved more of them.

Examples of Complacency in the Bible

The truth that overturns the lie of complacency is that God has saved you and set you free not to indulge yourself but to serve others, to elevate them over yourself and seek their good. Here are some complacency bible scriptures:

  • A key scripture supporting this truth is Paul’s exhortation in Galatians 5: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” 
  • Another is Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 2 to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourself, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

We all know that Jesus saves us from sin, but the truth we’re examining here tells us what we’re saved for. And it’s all about giving and serving: He saved us, set us free, so that our lives can point others to the joy found in him.

The Bible talks about this in various ways. In his parable of the wedding feast in Luke 12, Jesus calls us to be perpetually prepared for service. He also indicates the reward for this: Those who faithfully serve will end up being served by their master himself, who will meet their needs.

As the Genesis creation story clearly indicates, God loves work. The practical upshot is that we are stewards of the work he gives us. This work all involves serving others for his glory.

Our inbuilt purpose for service is also evident in the way our brains work. According to neuroscience, our brains thrive when we serve others and seek their good over our own. Service to others reduces stress-related and threat-related brain activity while also engaging the brain’s reward system, providing us with pleasure. 

The above complacency bible examples will help you understand the dangers of complacency.

Bible Scriptures to Help You Overcome Complacency

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jennie Allen's "Get Out of Your Head" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Get Out of Your Head summary :

  • Satan’s master plan for poisoning your mind with toxic thoughts
  • How to replace ungodly lies with scriptural truths
  • How to “put on the mind of Christ” and fulfill God’s plan for you

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

One thought on “Bible Scriptures to Help You Overcome Complacency

  • September 21, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    This is an outstanding post, very well written and very informative!


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