Many have the tendency to be complacent when things are going their way. They feel good about what they have accomplished. Meanwhile, they lower their guard and take an easygoing approach. Certainly, this is a precarious attitude that must be quickly checked. The apostle John admonished believers saying, “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 1:8). Up until the full reward is received, there is a need to press on. Many are suffering today because they were complacent. They did not persevere enough to get their full reward.
But what can cause us to be complacent in our walk with the Lord? When we live off our past successes, we tend to forget that there are still battles ahead that we have to win. We assume that just as God was good to us in the past, he will be the same in the future. But the Lord said through the prophet Zephaniah, “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad’” (Zeph. 1:12). Because we do not know what the future holds for us, we need to be vigilant always.
The ultimate cause of complacency is pride. When we reach the level of self-satisfaction, we tend to live on it. We no longer persevere as we used to. We tend to depend on God less, believing that we did most of the work. Looking back, we wrongly claim that it was because of our strategies and connections that we succeeded, and not because of our prayers and dependence on God. The truth of the matter, however, is that it was God who worked everything together for our good. Therefore, the apostle Paul warned, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12).
What then should our attitude be when we run the race of this life? Acknowledging the myriad of challenges that we face in life, Jesus said, “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Even from the beginning, we should set our heart and mind to finish our race. We should not settle for anything less, lest we miss out. We need to consider the winning attitude of the apostle Paul. He revealed these attitudes when reflecting on his spiritual journey, saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). We certainly can learn much from Paul’s winning attitudes.
The first winning attitude is diligence (“I have fought a good fight”). For us to be able to fight the good fight, we must “work at it with all our heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23). This requires that we do not fight by our might nor by our power, but we must fully depend on God knowing that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). What make our fight effective as we pursue it diligently is that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).
The second willing attitude is persistence (“I have finished the race”). Regardless of the challenges that will come, we need to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). It is so tempting to throw in the towel when persecution comes, but if we focus our eyes on the Lord and not on our circumstances, the goal is within our grasp. Therefore, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
The third winning attitude is endurance (“I have kept the faith”). It is only if we endure that we will reach our goal, the salvation of our soul. Again, the Lord Jesus himself said, “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). These words were not only given by the Lord to encourage the disciples to endure, but that he himself endured until the end. Therefore, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
As we run our race, let us keep these winning attitudes in mind. Let us “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24). Just like the apostle Paul, may we confidently say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Hallelujah!