We all have heard this old saw.
familiarity breeds contemptFAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
When someone becomes familiar to us, we tend to take that someone for granted. That is, we presume that that person will always be there for “me” just as we have always known them. How does that generate contempt?
- Even when we have become the familiar (Definition of Familiar (merriam-webster.com)) of another, we may resent being presumed upon. We may resent being taken for granted. Then we may begin to see someone who so readily presumes upon our good nature as moronic and worthy of our contempt.
- When someone becomes familiar to us, we cease to examine them carefully. We simply presume to “know” them without considering them. Then we may treat their feelings about our presumptions with contempt.
Consider how the Bible supports the proposition that familiarity breeds contempt. Here is a proverb that warns against taking another’s good nature for granted..
Proverbs 25:17 warns against the sin is taking our neighbor’s hospitality for granted. Because we need boundaries, even good neighbors put up fences between each other, and good neighbors respect fences.
Mark 6:1-6 addresses the other aspect of familiarity breeding contempt, when someone presumes to “know” us better than they can. Imagine maintaining the foolhardy presumption that Jesus is just like one of us.
When Jesus came to His hometown, the people thought themselves very familiar with Him. They refused to accept the possibility that God had grown up among them, and that they had not noticed. In fact, when He first announced who He was to them (Luke 4:16-30 NASB – And He came to Nazareth, where He had – Bible Gateway), the people He had grown up with had tried to kill Him. Because Jesus rejected their understanding of Him, the people of His hometown had vast contempt for Him.
What about us? What can we make a habit of taking for granted?
- Our own knowledge: We all think we understand “things”. That is, we each work to become familiar with our own part of the world, and we strive to find our place in it, a way we can make our lives seem profitable. Cautious of change, most of us tend to live our lives in rut. We do the same things, go to the same places, and see the same people day after day. When our lives go on the each day with little change, when Creation fails to remind us of how little we know, we can treat Creation with contempt. Then we may fail to remember that we are just part of God’s Creation, that Creation was made to glorify God, not us. (see The Rut (servantsofgrace.org))
- The expertise of experts: Experts are people who have a practiced skill set. That is, when they encounter a problem that is familiar to them, they can quickly fix that problem for a predicable fee. In a society filled with experts fixing problems that experts know how to solve, we have come to expect the services of experts who swiftly and competently fix our problems for a reasonable fee. That is, we have come to take the expertise of experts for granted. However, experts are people just like us. Just as our knowledge is limited so is their knowledge. Moreover, just as our honesty has its limits, so does the honesty of the people we call experts. Therefore, it pays to get a second opinion and to appreciate honesty as well as expertise. Consider the number of decades “experts” have been making predictions like this, Global Warming Could Make Survival in Tropics Impossible: Study | Health News | US News. Then consider this hypocrisy, Velshi: Expertise without honesty is BS (msnbc.com)). Experts in the news media led us to believe Governor Andrew Cuomo was doing a great job, Advisers of New York’s Cuomo altered report on nursing home deaths -papers (msn.com), but we are supposed to forget the nursing home deaths Cuomo caused and focus on Cuomo’s #METOO violations.
- The integrity of big organizations: We hear the names of big tech companies, utilities, retailers, grocery stores, charities, labor unions, churches, and the like every day. Either they advertise or they are in the news. We buy stuff from them, donate to them, and we work for them. And because big organizations work so assiduously to gain our trust, we can begin to take the fact we should trust them for granted, but should we trust them? Consider that each big organization is a political interest group. Some of these big organizations even own news media organizations to promote their own interests. Every single one of them donates money to politicians. Therefore, why should we presume to exactly know and trust the motives of the people who run any big organization? Is it wise to trust a company that uses slave laborers in China to make its products? (see Here Are The Companies Linked To Forced Uighur Slave Labor | The Daily Caller) How about the Big Tech companies that once supported open debate and now censor anyone who disagrees with them? (see Big Tech is creating a dangerous censorship precedent – Washington Times and Big Tech Censorship Is Now Hitting Non-Political Businesses, Nonprofits (thefederalist.com))
- Government officials: You are an average adult, one of the tens of millions of adult in America’s constitutional republic. Should you take the freedom you were born with for granted? If we don’t conscientiously participate in the governance of the American republic, will it make a difference? Won’t the people who care enough to vote still choose the best person, or at least someone adequate to the job? What could go wrong? Is it possible we have already elected demagogues who have contempt for the unwashed masses? Have you looked the way President Joe Biden is legislating with executive orders? (see All of President Biden’s key executive orders — in one chart – MarketWatch and Joe Biden’s executive orders and actions – Ballotpedia). Have considered whether that nearly 2 trillion dollar bill that supposedly is all about providing relief for COVID-19 pandemic is just a scheme to raid the public treasury? (see Covid relief bill gives $86 billion bailout to failing union pension plans (cnbc.com) How long will we retain the right to vote? (listen to the beginning of Mark Levin’s March 8th show, Megaphone: A Modern Podcasting Platform – Mark Levin Podcast)
- Job: Many of us, after working for awhile, begin to take our jobs for granted, but our work is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:10). Instead of seeing our customers and coworkers as people we serve, we begin to take them granted. Instead of serving others, we begin to see our customers and coworkers as people who fulfill our needs. (see Work as Worship | Work Life and Relevant Bible Teaching – Work As Worship)
- Health: Many of us, blessed with good health from birth, take our good health for granted. We don’t understand our own fragility, our dependence upon our Creator, that He has numbered our days. We forget how Ecclesiastes 12 begins:
- Friends: Because the people who care about us want us to trust them, we can easily take our friends for granted. However, true friendship involves what we are willing to sacrifice, not just what we are willing to receive. Consider a couple of proverbs.
- Our children: We can easily take it for granted that our children will grow up to be people of good moral character, people that our Lord will take up to be with Him in Heaven when their lives end. Nothing, unfortunately, just happens because we want it to happen. When our children are ready, most of us start sending them a public school. Here they are taught by strangers what politicians deem appropriate, and that seems to be mostly about the virtues of a secular and pagan lifestyle. When it is not what God wants, why do we do that to our children?
- Our spouse: As we grow up we may take it for granted that what the people around us are doing is good and proper, that the way things are are the way things should be. The Bible says otherwise, and in our hearts — when we read the Bible — we know the Bible is right and true. We know that when a man and a woman marry, the two should become one (Genesis 2:18-25 NASB – Bible Gateway). What the mass media teaches about sex is not real, and it is not right. Our gender cannot be fluid. No matter how attractive we find someone, it is still wrong to treat another human being like a sexual toy. Sex is not for entertainment and the joy of conquest. Children are not at worst a nuisance and at best amusing and expensive pets. Marriage is not a myth. Marriage it an opportunity to share our life another and begin to learn how God loves us and we should love Him.
- God: It is a strange and almost inexplicable irony. Of all that is, God is the most easy and the most dangerous to take for granted. Why? Consider this passage.
God is omnipresent. His image is on every one of us. Still, because seeing Him would destroy us, we only know of Him. We find it difficult to know Him, impossible to become familiar with Him. Therefore, whether we are good or evil, the sun rises upon us, and He sends us the rain.
It is difficult to be good and impossible to be perfect. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ calls upon us to follow Him, and He has shown us the way. Therefore, we must have faith, trust His Word, and follow Him.