Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him (Mark 6:3 KJV)
Familiarity breeds contempt in everyday life but breeds more in spiritual matters— it quenches the fire of the Spirit and arrests any move of God in our lives.
When we become familiar or accustomed to something or someone, we turn to underappreciate their value or even lose the respect and honor we once had for them. The more you know the person, especially their faults and weaknesses, the more contempt this familiarity breeds if not controlled. Sadly, spiritual matters are susceptible to such attitudes. We do not receive from the gift we do not believe in or respect.
Familiarity is an enemy of God’s plans and purposes. It breeds not just contempt but unbelief, complacency, apathy, and dishonor. Not even Jesus, the Son of God, with the fullness of the Spirit, was exempt from the consequences of familiarity. The people in His hometown, who saw Him as a little boy and knew “everything” about His family, could not see Him as the Messiah He indeed was. They could not go past Mary’s toddler from yesterday, Joseph’s Boy, or the Carpenter down the street.
Spiritual familiarity is why “a prophet is not without honor except in his town and his own home” (Matt. 13:57). It is also why most ministers will see more extraordinary miracles in another congregation than theirs. Familiarity blinds our eyes to the well of water before us that God has provided to meet our needs.
The consequences of spiritual familiarity go beyond how we see other believers or ministers. They also include how we see ourselves or the “routines” of Christianity. Since you know yourself so well, you are most susceptible to becoming familiar with yourself, thus quenching the Spirit’s fire. We can also become accustomed to prayer, Bible reading, Sunday services, revival meetings, and the like, thus transforming these spiritual treasures into empty routines.
I wonder if any of us is immune to spiritual familiarity. The most we could do is to become aware of its workings, take steps to bring it under check, and constantly seek God’s grace to help us never to see ourselves, other believers, or other ministers “in the flesh.” Paul discloses the way to escape spiritual familiarity:
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” (2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV)
Stop regarding or seeing people, including yourself, according to the flesh! Learn to see people from God’s perspective and respect God’s gift at work in them. That minister may be our pastor, daddy, or even husband. They might even be a co-minister, an usher, or our sibling; however, we should resist the temptation of not seeing Christ in them because of this close association or acquaintance.
We need the grace to break free from spiritual familiarity every day.
Do you think your attitude to Jesus would have been different if you were one of His brothers or sisters?
APPLY THE WORD
Familiarity blinds our eyes to what God is doing through others or through you. Resist this spiritual enemy—see no one, including yourself, after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Ask the Father for the grace to overcome familiarity every day.
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