The Problem of Familiarity

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. –Hebrews 2:1

“Do not pass.” I don’t remember seeing that sign before. This time, I noticed it–and it looks like the sign has been there for a long while. Apparently, the sign has become so familiar to me that it blended into the scenery. It had lost its meaning. Yet, this time I noticed. It’s there for a good purpose. The sign is posted to warn drivers that on this particular slow curve to the left, passing another car would be dangerous. Frankly, I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to pass another car on that very stretch of road.

Perhaps I’m taking this too seriously, but it bothered me when I realized that I don’t usually notice the sign. What other signs and other warnings am I ignoring? Familiarity can cause complacency that puts me in danger.

The problem of familiarity can also affect our spiritual lives. I am reminded that there are many familiar warnings in the Bible. Purposeful warnings. Good warnings. Warnings like “Don’t commit adultery,” “Don’t show favoritism,” and “Don’t repay evil for evil.” God, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, instructs us through the Bible that there are things in life we need to avoid. He does this not because He wants to contain our behavior for His own amusement or control, but rather because He loves us and warns us for our own benefit. His warnings are real warnings about real dangers.

How often have we, as Christians, been tempted to ignore (or have ignored) God’s warnings because they have simply become too familiar? Can it be that we pass right by them without thinking about their meaning? I’m guilty of this. How about you?

The next time you read a Biblical command or warning, don’t let familiarity get the best of you. Think about it. Consider its purpose. Act on it.

1. How has familiarity with Biblical warnings affected your life?

2. Are there behaviors in your life that you know violate clear Biblical warnings? If so, think through the purpose of those Biblical warnings. Why does God warn against these behaviors? What benefit does God intend by giving these warnings?

Zechariah 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16; 2 Peter 1:12-19

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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