There are so many ways we use the word settle that lends to a favorable tone. We use it when talking about someone maturing or possibly getting married when we say they settled down. We talk about it in terms of rest when we have settled in for the night. We talk about children settling down and behaving. We may even view a settlement in a legal case in a positive fashion.
But there are some dangers associated with settling. Even in some of the references above there is danger when we have settled. If we marry someone to be settled down while missing the one God intended, has settling down benefitted us? But there are so many other ways in which settling is dangerous. There are a number of places in the Bible where people settled and found that it led to unfortunate situations. Elimelech and Naomi settled in Moab where he died and their two sons died. The people who built the Tower of Babel settled in a plain in Babylonia and thought staying there would make them famous. Abraham’s father, Terah, started out for the land of Canaan but settled in Haran and never made it to Canaan. Over and over again we see how settling had a higher cost than expected.
The same is true in our everyday life. Settling often keeps us from the very things we thought we were going to accomplish. Settling has so many implications, many of which are not good. While settling is not always bad, many times it is. Here are a few of the dangers of settling and what it may mean.
We accepted less than the best
Many times when we settle we have chosen to accept less than what is available, possible or best. We have chosen to meet in the middle. To accept mediocrity. To take what we can get. We even justify it with sayings like “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush”. What we mean is we would rather have something than take the risk of having nothing. Gamblers at a blackjack table will often settle for “even money” when they draw blackjack and the dealer has an ace up. Taking even money means we get something. But the odds are the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, and even if they do, over the long haul, the odds are in your favor. But settling adds to the house advantage. So many times we accept something because we are afraid of having nothing, but it also causes us to miss something better or best.
Settling means we stopped moving
From a spiritual standpoint, settling is dangerous because it usually means we have stopped growing. Resting and settling are not the same. Sometimes we need to stop, regroup and rest. But sometimes, rest turns into settling and we make where we stopped our permanent residence which is the opposite of walking by faith or growing into Christ. Growth requires change. Walking requires movement. Settling puts an end to both.
Settling means separation
Orange juice seems to be the easiest illustration here when pulp begins to settle in the bottom and requires you to “shake well” to get the full taste of the juice. This can happen with paint, medicine and many other types of liquids. The important ingredients begin to separate and it is not as useful or as effective as it was in its intended solution state. It does not mean it cannot be used again. It just means that it will have to be shaken to be most effective. Sometimes settling causes us to not be as useful as we once were or should be and it requires major upheaval in our life. Sometimes the upheaval or shaking can be traumatic and wouldn’t be necessary if we had not settled.
Sickness has settled in
Settled is a word that may be used with certain lung illnesses like bronchitis. It suggests a depth to the illness and the time that it will take to recover. Settling may be a sign of sickness or a depth of infection in our life. It may also signify the length of time that it will take for us to recover from our current situation.
Be aware of the places in your life where you are tempted to settle. Settling has so many dangers that may cause you to miss the best things God intended for your life. Live with purpose and accomplish everything God has designed for your life.