APATHY- THE FINAL DEATH BLOW
THE SIN OF APATHY
Apathy is a lack of interest, emotion, or concern. It is very dangerous
as a way of life, because it is a withdrawal from all things, important
or unimportant. And, if we are apathetic or unconcerned about some things
and not about others, we had better be sure we have our priorities right.
With apathy, our lives can become a cesspool of dirty, smelly, stagnant
(apathetic) water, useful to neither ourselves or others. To be sure, by
then we have departed from God's will and purpose in our lives, which means
we have departed from Him. God may try various interventions in order to
reach us, including letting us stay in that cesspool until we are tired
of the smell. Otherwise, He can be found reaching into it, stirring it
up in order to get our attention. Whatever the case, we cannot complain
afterwards over whatever happened that finally woke us up, for we can use
that crisis to motivate ourselves to accept God's strength to make a change.
But God would rather have our attention in the first place, because
He loves us and wishes to spare us from our own foolishness or ignorance.
We are fortunate that He has provided warnings in His Word so we might
avoid falling into our own personal cesspool. Yet it is not just about
us. The human condition of self-centeredness would have it be just about
us, but our passive stance, our denial, and our inattentiveness do affect
other people too, whether we acknowledge it or not. God is never disinterested
or blind to our true spiritual condition, even if we are.
It is very important that we be aware of the fact that apathy disgusts
God, and that He holds us accountable for it. Apathy disgusts God because:
- it is the quality of the wicked
Prov. 29:7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the
wicked have no such concern.
- it promotes injustice, leading to death and suffering
Prov. 24:10-12 If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your
strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering
toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not
he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know
it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
(see also Prov. 28:4 and Prov.29:27)
- it promotes corruption, sin, and error, leading to bondage for those
who are spiritually immature and/or who are easily corrupted
Rev. 2:18-20 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These
are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose
feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith,
your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you
did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that
woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads
my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to
In this last example in Revelations, the Lord is essentially asking the
church of Thyatira to toss out a false prophetess whose teachings lead
His people into sexual sin and idolatry. This is because He cares about
His young lambs in the Christian fellowship.
What we see throughout the scriptures is that God hates apathy because
God hates the evil that flourishes while people say nothing and do nothing.
He cares about the naïve, helpless, and innocent who suffer in the
society, community, fellowship, or family who has let evil overrun them.
He even cares about sinners who are walking toward their destruction. Those
who doubt God's care, usually doubt it because they have experienced no
action on their behalf and are hurt that God has failed to rescue them
from the event or events of their victimization. They can't help but feel
abandoned in the throes of their pain (if the religious doubt this, let
them search the Psalms!), and they can easily become as apathetic toward
God as they believe God has become toward them.
However, God's Perfect Will is not found on earth as it is in heaven.
If earth were as ordered and perfect as heaven, Jesus would not have instructed
us to pray for earth's 'realignment' in what is commonly known as the Lord's
Prayer (i.e. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"). God has left
man with his own free will, and fully expects man to steward himself
and the earth according to His instructions or conscience. This includes
matters of both mercy and justice. As for these, he left instructions for
the nation of Israel as an example of law and order, and He sent Jesus
as an example of mercy and grace. While the tension between these examples
may cause endless debate, nevertheless God in His wisdom left us to make
our own decisions and judgments as to how we should solve this tension.
However, what is clear beyond any nitpicking over what is acceptable, is
that God Himself is angered when we fail to carry out either justice or
mercy. In this example below, God is moved to carry out Justice Himself
against a society that has greatly displeased Him:
Isa. 59:8-18 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice
in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks
in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does
not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but
we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling
our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan
mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance,
but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins
testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our
iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs
on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have
conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere
to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and
was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked
salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness
as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on
the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. According
to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution
to his foes; he will repay the islands their due.
We see above that wickedness is being multiplied, unchecked. Those who
would correct it are slaughtered and nullified. The people suffer and seem
to desire help and hope, but they do so as a "blind man". They are also
"like the dead," and the prophet proclaims that they are reaping what they
have sown into their society. Sin and the injustice, plus
that no one was left to care, appalled God. Man had failed to carry out
what he was fully equipped to carry out both by common decency and by God’s
earlier instructions, and so God is eventually moved to carry out righteous
Fast forward to the future and take a look at the spiritual condition
described in the Laodicean Church:
Rev. 3:14-19 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These
are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of
God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I
wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither
hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich;
I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize
that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to
buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white
clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to
put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.
So be earnest, and repent.
Just as God did for the wayward nation of Israel, God warns through His
prophets that He will rebuke and discipline His own. He does this to save
His fallen Bride from the most deplorable of spiritual conditions: arrogance
(blindness) to true condition, nakedness (unrighteousness), wretchedness,
and poverty in spirit. By ‘save’, I do not mean that God has prevented
her from coming to such a condition, for she is already there in her foolishness.
Rather, that He will severely discipline with restraint, to redeem her
corporately from complete destruction while ‘saving’ a remnant of certain
individuals. Read Isa. 57:1-21 as well as other scriptures before Israel’s
exile, and you will read a similar enough general description, concept,
and plan as we see in Rev. 3:14-19.
DECEITFUL WEALTH AND APATHY
How does one get to the point of apathy that the Laodicean church did?
One clue might be the reference to riches and acquired wealth in the Lord's
rebuke to her (Rev. 3:17). Israel too, became apathetic about her own sin,
as she turned away from God to pursue her hedonistic lifestyle (Hosea 7:13).
Could wealth and worldly pleasure play a role in complacency?:
Hosea 13:6: As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And
being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore, they forgot Me.
When one considers how apathy begins and then slides a people into deterioration,
one might consider this: As people become apathetic toward God as their
source of blessings and protection, they consider Him no longer so important.
Proud of their own national and humanistic accomplishments, they credit
themselves more than Him for their daily bread. Losing their spiritual
center, they turn toward something else (a hedonistic lifestyle and other
seductions, as in the case of fallen Israel). They then squander the wealth
and ease that God originally provided on various self-indulgences (here
again is the self-centeredness of apathy). It is no wonder the New Testament
writers warned of the deceitfulness of riches (James 5:1-8). Wealth, pride,
and misplaced priorities can lead people to care only for their own desires
Isa. 56: 9-11 Come, all you beasts of the field, come and devour,
all you beasts of the forest!
Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute
dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.
They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds
who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his
Israel’s priests, prophets, and kings had all vacated their position of
watching over God’s people. Apathy and corruption had destroyed their leadership
abilities. The Lord had always been interested in establishing righteous
leaders (Num. 27:15-17, Ps. 78:70-72), but the people chose unrighteous
ones instead, and He found this wholly unacceptable (Jer. 5:31). The false
shepherds they ended up following were so self-indulgent that they did
not care for His people (Ezek. 34:8). Their sin was so great, that eventually
God decided to leave that failing System behind for a new one. This time
He did not provide a Moses as before, nor a group of shepherds (plural)
to care for His people. Instead, he promised a new Shepherd who was mystically
called, "my servant David" (verse 23). He alone would become the Shepherd
of the future (Isa. 40:1-11- compare verse 3 with Matt. 3:3)
As for prophets, it is worthy to note that though they were the only
spiritual leaders who "barked" against corruption, this did not save the
nation of Israel. Isaiah cried out against injustice (Isa. 58:1), Habakkuk
lamented over injustice (Hab. Chapt. 1), and Jeremiah was so vexed by betrayal
that he asked for vengeance from God (Jer. 18:18-23). God was not rebuking
these prophets when He revealed the spiritual state of the ‘church’ there
in Israel. They were not the mute and dumb dogs, but are instead full of
passion! They were definitely the minority though, and not the majority.
Sadly, the people would not heed them.
It should be clear through the study of Scripture that God is not impressed
with misplaced fervor any more than He is impressed with apathy. The prophets
sent by God were passionately consumed with God's concerns, while the people
of Israel were completely apathetic over God Himself. It is common to be
passionate about the wrong things and apathetic about the wrong things
when our priorities are upside down.
In today's American Church, too many are clanging cymbals for self-serving
or shallow causes. It is time for the compromised to take up their crosses
and the weary to take upon themselves the easy yoke, and follow the One
True Shepherd (instead of the false shepherds) out of the deceptions of
blindness, complacency, and corruption. The spiritual survival of our nation
is already at risk, and our example of Israel shows that a nation's physical
survival depends upon the spiritual.