Languishing in the Land- the Dangers of Contentment

History begets its attainments, both mental and material, to proceeding generations.

The youngest are in reality the oldest.

-Roger Bacon, 1267 AD

Each new generation develops an aging complex where it is, by association, wiser and older than it seems to be. It outwardly lurches forward, propelled by its inheritance, but there is the danger that within, the spirit shrivels. The past must not merely be received but internalized, comprehended, and surpassed. Otherwise, we live on the anachronistic attainments of another century.

We languish under the surfeit of undigested data.

-Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc

Nineteenth century archChristChurch Cathedral, Gothic Revival, christians on campus experienceitecture is a good example. Because of the advances in science, technology, use of materials, etc. the old traditions should have naturally been relinquished. Standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, each new generation of architects should see past the awe of historical precedent to the vista of new architectural potentials. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans passed on principles, reasons, and truths to be assimilated into the composing fibers of a new body of architecture.

Instead, nineteenth century architecture in its “old” age stammered a confused run-on sentence of ‘neos.’ Neoclassical. Neo-Gothic. Neo-Renaissance. Devoid of principle, architecture became sterile and was unable to bequeath anything but empty shells. The true expression of the needs imposed by structure and man was lost. The impotent architecture that remained became senseless graffiti on modern society.

Check out the retrograde motion, kill the notion / Of biting and recycling and calling it your own creation.

-Wyclef Jean

What is true of architecture is true with God. God is always advancing.

For example, as great as Moses was, Joshua couldn’t revel in his ministry and try to repeat it. Joshua didn’t give another Deuteronomy, he crossed the river and took possession of the good land. Before Moses departed, he warned the second generation of the danger of contentment and apathy. He was concerned they might languish in their inheritance (poignantly translated in the Recovery Version), in ‘undigested data’.

When you have brought forth children and grandchildren and have languished in the land…

-Deuteronomy 4:25

Young Christians cannot live on hand-me down revelations or second hand truths, as long as they remain objective. Historical lessons and teaching points can only go so far. We need to receive (passive) but also possess (active). This will save us from trying to emulate the good old days and keep us at the cusp of what God is doing today. This will also save us from the Laodicean attitude which says, “I am wealthy and have become rich and have need of nothing (Rev. 3:17).”

19 thoughts on “Languishing in the Land- the Dangers of Contentment

  1. This article reminds me of a song that says, “Don’t give me a second-hand Savior, let me touch Him first”. There’s a great danger to know God only in a general way from hearing about Him in the meetings, from our parents, and from the other people. Also, there’s the danger to “know God from the spiritual books” only. We all need a first hand encouter with God, to know Him personally, to touch His heart, see what is He doing today, and even join ourselves with our whole being to His desire…

    • Thanks! I love the lyrics. Our parents God needs to become our God and our parent’s church needs to become our church. We don’t need to see something original, but what others have seen we need to see ourselves. More knowledge though doesn’t necessarily equate to more knowing. I like how you described it- “know Him personally.” With some Christians I’ve gotten the impression that they know a lot about God. With some other Christians I’ve gotten the impression that they know God.

  2. So awesome that to possess, to be active, is the ultimate way to not languish and to keep pursuing Him and stretching forward. I didn’t fully get what you wrote here, actually mostly I just have no idea… but I saw at least, to not languish I also need to possess. It is the way the Lord has led us… we need to be active~

    By the way, whenever I read your post I feel like I am getting smart. ohh I’m reading this much profound writing.. something like that. but I know the thing is that I don’t understand…

    • Sounds like you got what matters. :) Everything else was just an illustration. Architectural mumbo-jumbo. Those guys have some jargon to reckon with. Always makes my head spin too.

  3. Moab has been at ease from his youth; And he is settled on his lees And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel; Nor has he gone into exile. Therefore his taste remains in him, And his scent is not changed. – Jeremiah 48:11

    This is another sobering passage that warns against being set, settled and occupied. This is just like when water from a river flows astray, forms a little pool and becomes stagnent and murky. This is like me when I fall away from the fellowship. I get stinky and stale. Since this is my tendency, God has to stir me up from time to time and even empty me. This is so I can have something fresh, not to keep to myself and remain in me, but to share with others. The more we actively pursue and possess Christ, the more others can taste Christ and even smell Christ in us!

    • You’re right drod. Here’s one thing that I’ve discovered can stir me up- hearing others describe their experience of Christ. I recently heard someone speak about these verses from Joshua. They sent some men to write a description of the land that hadn’t been possessed to inspire the tribes to go possess it.

      “And Joshua said to the children of Israel, How long will you be slack about going to take possession of the land that Jehovah, the God of your fathers, has given you? Appoint three men for each tribe, and I will send them out. And they shall rise up and go through the land, and write a description of it with a view to its being their inheritance…” -Joshua 18:3-4

      What has helped you rise back up when you begin to languish?

      • For if they fall, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls and does not have another to lift him up! – Ecclesiastes 4:10

        You and all the other Bible bloggers lift me up when you post fresh revelation from the Word of God. If you’re enjoying something, you can’t help but blog, right?

  4. In reading this post, I was reminded of Philippians 3:12-13. Like Joshua in the Old Testament and Paul in Philippians, we need to forget the things (yes, even something precious we may have seen of the Lord a few months ago) which are behind and press onward to the “things which are before.” What we see of the Lord should always be fresh and new. This requires that we spend time with Him. The riches of Christ are unsearchable (Ephesians. 3:8) and unlimited! May we be saved from languishing in the land and press on to mine the riches of our unsearchable and unlimited Lord Jesus!

    • Great verse! That’s a good connection. With the change of generations though, I think the point I was trying to make was that we need to absorb their experiences and the lessons they’ve learned but that shouldn’t induce passivity and contentment. It should stir us up all the more and equip us to make advances into territory our predecessors hadn’t possessed. Progress not left-overs.

      But on the personal side you make a great application. Thanks for commenting.

  5. I appreciate your pointing out that we need to not only receive but also to possess. This reminds me of a marvelous verse in Daniel 11, that “the people who know their God will show strength and take action.” We certainly don’t want to be those who live in the past, and who can only speak of what we experienced of Christ years, or decades, ago. Rather, we should aspire to be fresh and living with the Lord, hearing His up-to-date speaking “today” (see Hebrews 3), so that we can be in His present move on the earth.

    • Great points John-Paul. I love the verse in Daniel 11 you brought up. Take action! Even though, a lot of times, I don’t feel that qualified when I compare myself with the generation before me, I’ve noticed that when I take action with the portion I have, God seems to honor it. God isn’t interested in how much we’ve received per se, but our faithfulness to use what we have to the greatest extent. The widow in Luke 21 was praised for casting in all, not casting in much. I also like how you connect God’s speaking with His move. There’s an element in His word that overcomes our inertia and causes us to take action.

  6. “Undigested data” is the birth of self-deception. This rings true in statistics and in our spiritual progress as well. Many times due to ignorance or lethargy, I fall into spiritual indigestion. Your post brought me to repent.

    I’m curious though. What do you think is the main factor that causes us to fail in assimilating historical lessons & even going beyond historical, to be active seekers/possessors?

    • Two possibilities that quickly come to mind:

      1) We often equate understanding/comprehending with possessing. Just because we understand and can even teach certain things from the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean that we have them. The excellency of the knowledge should propel us to gain Christ experientialy. But often we stop short with the knowledge alone.

      2) We develop a routine and grow comfortable with it. We think that we are all right.

  7. Even though I’m early middle-aged, I connect more with the younger generation in this regard, because this is exactly where I am. Thank you for sharing. Lord, overcome our inertia, bring us into ‘knowing’ You in actuality and cause us to rise up and take action. Forgive us for being lax.

  8. Hey Kyle! :D these posts are amazing. Brings me on a intellectual journey that eventually leads to me a greater appreciation and love for our Lord Jesus. Thank you brother for doing this. Our Lord is always moving forward! Save us from languishing in the land!

  9. Pingback: The Eternal Move of God through Men of Eternity, With the Vision and Life of Eternity, in the Three Sections of the Work of Eternity, on the Bridge of Time, in the Midst of Eternity, For the Accomplishment of the Eternal Economy of the Eternal God «

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