Job made an interesting observation when he was answering his friends’ accusations as to why so many bad things had happened to him. “A lamp is despised to the thought of one who is at ease; it is made ready for those whose feet slip” (Job 12:5). While the structure of this verse might at first appear confusing, it is simply warning of the dangers of being “at ease.” It is a mental/spiritual condition of being self-satisfied. The connection between being at ease and feet slipping is made in Deuteronomy chapter 32. “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35). Being at ease, or self-satisfied, they don’t see the calamity that is coming and fail to take appropriate action. The one at ease despises the light of a lamp because he or she, in their self-satisfied state, sees no need for a light to lead them.
Christ helps us understand this attitude. “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20). Conversely, the one not at ease will seek the light. “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God (verse 21). Again, a person at “ease” or one who does not feel the need to recognize a higher authority – one “who despises the light” – does not seek or respect that higher authority. What is at play here is the attitude of reverence and respect for God.
Those at ease trust in themselves. They see themselves as being right or pure in their own eyes. Or to put it in Christ’s words, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ … “ (Revelation 3:17). These people do not see the on-coming consequences of their spiritual condition. They don’t understand that their feet will slip in due time and the result will be calamity. The complacency of fools will destroy them. “Because they hated knowledge [light] and did not choose the fear of the Lord … they shall eat the fruit of their own way … and the complacency of fools will destroy them …” (Proverbs 1:29-32).
The act of listening to God is generated by a fear, that is a respect, of God. As Moses prepared Israel to enter the land, he instructed them, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself … especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth …” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10). The fear of God is a healthy perspective for a human to have. It brings God and self into clear focus. With deep reverence and respect for God, we clearly see self for what it is.
If we have minds that operate on the spiritual level, the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding we need are provided via the Holy Spirit. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1:7). “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:5-6).
Our environment provides little help to us in reverencing God. The social conditioning effectively reduces God to a humanistic level. God is what we make Him to be in our secular thinking. If we think about Job’s observation, we can see that if we are lights of God’s way, then the world “at ease” will despise those who stand in the light of God – those who stand in awe of Him.
But if we fear God, we will not need to have any fear of calamity. Our feet will be firm. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
Our fear of God should remove any aspects of being at “ease” and provide light that can shine before men “…that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).