The Challenges of Complacency
For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. (Joshua 23:9-11)
Past victories do not guarantee future triumphs. We see in the sports world great teams will find themselves on winning streaks. However, it doesn’t matter how many games in a row they have won against other teams, more than likely the streak will come to an end. There is a reason the 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only team to ever have a perfect season.
Sometimes the side effects from winning can add to the factors through which defeat will eventually come. The appropriate level of confidence can turn to cockiness or having a healthy amount of respect for the other team can turn into overlooking an opponent. Eventually the victories can also bring about the attitude of half hearted preparation for the challenge ahead.
Joshua completely understood this concept. The Israelites had tasted the thrills of victory over a long period of time. As Joshua began to enter the final years of his life, he reminded the Israelites that God had driven out many strong nations from before them and that no one had yet been able to defeat them. Joshua knew their source of victories came from the Lord, so he reminded them, “…it is the Lord who fights for you, just as He promised.”
It would seem unthinkable the Israelites would ever forget or overlook all the spectacular things the Lord had accomplished on their behalf. However, victorious armies do grow complacent and at times become careless. Knowing this fact, Joshua reminded the Israelites to be very careful to love the Lord. They needed to constantly remember where the victories come from. Joshua knew full well if they overlooked this truth, the Israelite army would effectively fall its face.
Joshua did not assume the Israelites would suddenly become incompetent or that their leaders would suddenly forget all the strategies learned in battle. He saw something more serious on the horizon. He saw a day when the army might become so complacent in their relationship with the Lord and become so sure of themselves, they may longer love and honor Him as they should. He feared this would allow them to slide into compromise, become disobedient, which would lead to certain disaster.
As First Responders you are aware of what could possibly take place when you become complacent in your job. It only takes one time of being too casual and relaxed to bring about disastrous results. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been victorious, the streak can abruptly come to an end at any moment when things are taken too casually.
As you experience victories personally and professionally, always remember it is the Lord who goes before you in the battle; so with this in mind, stay vigilant, never become complacent and “…Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.”