May 20, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Nancy Cheung, Gracepoint Berkeley

Amos 6:1-2

·What was wrong with the fact that those in Zion and Samaria felt “complacent” and “secure”?
It was wrong that those in Zion and Samaria felt complacent and secure b/c their sense of security was ungrounded. They felt secure b/c they lived in strong fortresses, but the fact is that stronger cities than they had fallen. Zion and Samaria were under God’s judgment and would not be able to escape just b/c they were strong cities. They should have put their security in their relationship with God, rather than in their wealth and apparent strength of their city.
complacency- self-satisfied, smug. Not right b/c they’re not righteous.

What things in life cause people to feel complacent and secure?
When people are wealthy or financially comfortable, they feel secure against anything that life can throw at them. They feel like they can make life good for themselves with whatever they buy. They also feel complacent b/c they are not forced to face the hard realities of life, perhaps for a long time. When people are good-looking, they feel complacent and secure b/c they think that they have a good chance at getting the man or woman of their dreams, or they revel in the attention they get from members of the opposite sex. When people have a tight-knit family, they feel like they will be taken care of for the rest of their life. They feel comforted by the unconditional love and care of their families, so they feel like they don’t need anything else.

Amos 6:4-7

Why would indulging in material abundance or comfort cause people to “not grieve over the ruin” of others?
Indulging in material abundance or comfort cultivates a self-absorption in people. They get caught up in satisfying their flesh, which only leads to more and more indulgence. It’s hard for them to think about unpleasant things when they’re comfortable. They also start to feel like they deserve to be in this position of indulging themselves. With this attitude of self-centeredness and sense of entitlement, they detach themselves from any obligation to others, any concern about others. In choosing to care for themselves, they necessarily have to ignore and not care too much about others. So even when others are being ruined, they can’t grieve b/c their concerns are limited to the incredibly narrow sphere of just themselves. They don’t notice, and even if they do, it just doesn’t strike them as tragic b/c it doesn’t concern them.

How can I guard against this?
I can guard against this by deliberately not indulging in physical and emotional comfort. Not staying in the comfort of my home too much, but getting out to be with people and engage in what’s going on in their lives. I’m often tempted to just stay at NL all day, fellowship with the people there, work on my own stuff. But I need to fight this comfort and get out to SF to meet up with students, get into the details of their lives, do whatever I can to meet their needs. I can actively find out how people are doing around me, so that I stay attuned with what they’re going through and go through it with them; talk with them and pray for their needs.

Submitted by Peter Choi, Gracepoint Berkeley

Amos 6:1-2

What things in life cause people to feel complacent and secure?

The latter part of v.1 says that they are “notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come”.  This means that they are in a position where people looked to them for inspiration, guidance, and leadership. This is probably not unlike a younger sibling looking up to an older one, wanting to imitate everything and asking to tag along. So just like an older sibling, the people of Zion and Samaria should have felt a sense of responsibility to remain spiritually vigilant and faithful to God rather than become complacent and secure.

Yet often it is the very fact that they are influential, have established themselves, or  “have arrived” that can cause people feel complacent and secure. In everyday life, it might take the form of landing a good job, finding themselves financially better off, getting married, having children, or buying a home – while they are all good things, they can potentially cause a person so become smug. In spiritual life, too, a person can become complacent and secure, thinking that they have somehow “paid their dues” and established themselves. As I get older, these are the things that I find I need to fight in order to keep from becoming complacent, as I see more and more that my life is transitioning from “establishing” to “established” in many ways. In the end, I need to take to heart v.1 & 2 and remember my role, so that I don’t become complacent and secure.

Amos 6:4-7

“Verse 6 pointed to the cardinal defect of the days of luxury and lolling; failure to care for the break-up of the state and the broken lives of its people;…they had wantonly disassociated themselves from human need (6), so they come to the point where they know that God has disassociated Himself from their need…”[1]

Where does a lifestyle of luxury, of “feasting and lounging,” fit in my hierarchy of values?

Indulging in material abundance or comfort dulls a person’s sensitivity to the need of those around him – physical, spiritual, emotional, or otherwise. These words were spoken during a time of prosperity, during a time in which suffering was not a reality, let alone any ruin. The people here were able to continue in their self-indulgent ways. As a result, they were desensitized to the fact that there were true needs all around: to shore up their spiritual bond with God and to care for one another as children of God.

The answer is not blanket asceticism, which can miss the point in many ways and even lead to pride as it did with the Pharisees. But there has to be a real sense of taking to heart God’s warnings against indulging in material abundance and repenting for any area that is indulgent rather than sacrificial. During Amos’ time, strict adherence to the tithe would have gone a long way to guard against indulgence because a tenth represented true sacrifice. Not as much for so many of us in modern-day America, where giving a tenth is symbolic, if anything. So I need to look for areas of sacrifice, and dive right in. Whether it be time, money, energy, emotional capacity – these are all areas of my life that I need to ask the question “has there been sacrifice in this area?” And as a follower of Christ, I need to go one further by asking “is there anything left that I could give?” I’m so thankful that as a community our church has so much to offer in this area, and will approach each opportunity to sacrifice with gratitude, as it serves as a guardrail for my heart against the peril of indulgence and complacency.

[1] J.A. Motyer, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Amos, 143-144.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response