How Can Christians Bounce Back from Spiritual Complacency?

Milton Quintanilla

Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
Published Apr 11, 2023
How Can Christians Bounce Back from Spiritual Complacency?

Let’s discuss the topic of spiritual complacency, the reasons behind it, and how Christians can bounce back from it. It is beneficial to undergo self-reflection at this time to see where you are at in this walk with God.

At some point in our walks of faith, we reach a point where we become spiritually dry or complacent. While we started off with zeal and passion for Him, it got lost along the way. As a result, we’ve become cold and lazy. Moments like this can be discouraging as you feel as though God is a million miles away or that you are a million miles away from Him.

Let’s discuss the topic of spiritual complacency, the reasons behind it, and how Christians can bounce back from it. It is beneficial to undergo self-reflection at this time to see where you are at in this walk with God. Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau, or you’ve not been as consistent as you previously were in seeking Him. If you’re still unsure, let me offer you a list of possibilities for why you may be spiritually complacent, followed by an exhortation.

1. Sin

As Christians, we are biblically mandated to walk in holiness. As the Scriptures say, “be holy for I am holy” (Lev. 19:2). To be holy is to be separate; that is, to be set apart from the world as we are set apart unto God. In Christ, Christians are made holy, but we must also walk in holiness by not conforming to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2). But the problem is that so many Christians are still compromising, being caught up in the world when we are not of this world! Now, on one hand, it could very well be that those who profess to be Christian are not truly born again, or it's someone who is truly born again but is faltering in their walk. 

Friends, remember that although we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can grieve Him as well (Eph. 4:30). As a result, we become complacent because we have taken our eyes off Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), due to our own sins. While we sin daily, it’s so easy to remain in that sin rather than confessing it to God and walking in repentance. It’s easy to walk in the flesh rather than put it to death each day, as we should. When we trust in ourselves more than God, we end up doing what is right in our own eyes, thus, we sin against Him and ultimately become spiritually complacent. 

2. Distractions

The second reason behind spiritual complacency has to do with distractions. For instance, how much time do you spend on your phone, on social media, television, and video games rather than in the Word of God and in prayer? Sadly, we do this daily, myself included. As we spend hours on these things, we end up making little to no time with God. And when we do spend time with God, we do it so passively or treat it as a chore. 

When we are distracted by everything or everyone else but God, we fail to keep Him as our top priority. Just as it becomes difficult to grow in a relationship with someone without spending sufficient time with them, the same applies to our time with God. And the thing is, we don’t have any excuse as to why we shouldn’t seek the Lord. After all, we are talking about our Heavenly Father, the maker of heaven and earth, the one who sent His son Jesus to die for our sins so that we would be forgiven and reconciled to Him, the one who fills us with His Holy Spirit so that we would walk in sanctification, and the one who gave us His Word so that we would walk in His will! When we put it that way, we learn to realize what truly matters as opposed to being distracted.

3. Inconsistency 

A third reason for spiritual complacency has to do with inconsistency, particularly in one’s devotion to God. This happens to Christians, especially once they’ve passed the new conversion stage. When one is born again, one is in love with God, wanting nothing more than to spend time with Him, read the Scriptures and pray, kill sin, and desire to share the gospel. One’s devotion to the Lord is consistent out of gratitude towards Him. As time goes on, however, one becomes less consistent with their time spent with the Lord. Perhaps they’ve become preoccupied with life, circumstance, other people, distractions, and so forth. 

As a result, that once hot zeal for the Lord begins to wane to the point where one barely seeks Him at all. Times of secret prayer and digging deep in the Scriptures go from frequent to nonexistent. Overall, the things of God become a chore to the Christian who once was eager to seek Him. And thus, one becomes spiritually complacent.

Dealing With Spiritual Complacency 

To bounce back from spiritual complacency entails returning to our first love (Rev. 2:4), and recognizing that loss of love for Christ is spiritual apathy. Friends, that is what Christianity is all about, more than ethics and principles, but about knowing Him! Eternal life doesn’t begin when you die and go to Heaven, but when you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 17:3). Thus, we must recover our love for Christ by looking unto Him and reminding ourselves of who He is and what He has done, hence why we must preach the Gospel to ourselves daily. We are to be forever indebted to our Lord who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). We should be left in awe that He would look upon our helpless estate, dead in trespasses and sins, forgive us and justify to us that we would be reconciled to God the Father. 

In addition to preaching the Gospel to ourselves, we must get back to studying the Scriptures and prayer in breaking out of spiritual complacency. We must read God’s Word frequently, studiously, and devotionally. We must return to the secret place of prayer, having that special communion with God that many of us once had and looked forward to. We do these things not to check off a spiritual checklist for the day but to meet with the living God!

Now when one is spiritually complacent, it is easy to feel lazy, but we must press through it. Don’t wait until you feel like seeking God; seek Him no matter what! Just as we are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), we must walk by faith and not by feelings! As the Scriptures say, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26: 41). In order to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Matt. 16:24)! We must ask God to help us in our spiritual complacency and pray that the Holy Spirit would reinvigorate our passion for Him.

Friends, it’s easy to feel guilty for not seeking God like you used to but fret not! He is willing to forgive us. Remember that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23), meaning that each day is another opportunity to start again. Although we have been faithless, He has never ceased to be faithful to His people because He loves us. Not only does He meet us where we are at, but He is with us no matter what! Even when we haven’t sought Him, God is still by our side. He never leaves us or forsakes us. Therefore, we have all the motivation we need to seek Him once again.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

Milton QuintanillaMilton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.