Overcoming Apathy Every Day
Warren E. Berkley
Apathy is something that has ill effects in every area of human enterprise. In matters of politics and government we hear the expression “voter apathy.” In the retail industry and in all areas of business and manufacturing, one problem is people who are employed to do a certain job but they simply don’t care about excellence, competence or customer service.
The word “apathy” is interesting. It is from the Greek apatheia, which means without feeling. In English we have the word pathos which means strong passion and emotion. The prefix “a” means without, so again, apathy means without feeling; no passion, no emotion. One common expression that captures this is, WHO CARES? Apathy toward God is exemplified by the Laodiceans who were “neither cold nor hot,” (Revelation 3:14–16).
Before we can defeat apathy we need to understand the nature of it. When I preach about this I tell about the basis, the fuel, the behavior, the attitude and the language of apathy. Unbelief is the basis of apathy; ingratitude is the fuel of apathy; inaction is the behavior of apathy; indifference is the attitude of apathy and silence is the language of apathy.
Once defined and identified, our next work is to defeat it and to re-defeat apathy every day. How can we overcome apathy every day? I have three answers: Faith, Love and Hope (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Colossians 1:3–5).
This is the way to overcome apathy on a daily basis; through faith, love and hope! If I open my heart to the Word of God so that saving faith is produced within me—faith in God, in Christ, in the Word—and if that faith is sufficient to move me, cause me to act, to walk in the light of God’s word; to obey and please Him, that faith rules over apathy. (See 1 John 5:4, 5; Hebrews 11:6).
And as that faith works within me one product is love; genuine affection for God, a passionate love for Christ; a deep affection and devotion to the truth. That love drives apathy away. (See 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 22:38–40) Apathy has no ground to grow out of in a heart occupied with this love. “… you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:38–40; see also 1 Corinthians 13).
With that faith and love an associated quality is HOPE; assurance that God is faithful; that every promise will be kept; that at the end of this life we will not be left in a grave but raised to glory. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20, 21; see also 1 Corinthians 15).
If we do not open up our Bibles and seek the development of faith, love and hope—there isn’t any doubt, apathy will kill us! It will slowly kill us individually, collectively and will do lasting damage in our marriages and families. If apathy is allowed to do its daily damage, it will be a slow extinction that will deliver us to spiritual death. What we have learned is this: When there is faith, love and hope working in us—apathy has no basis; apathy suffers from a lack of fuel; action takes the place of laziness; indifference is conquered by zeal and silence cannot prevail.
Berkley, W. E. (1999). Overcoming Apathy Every Day. In B. Lewis (Ed.), Christianity Magazine: December, 1999, Volume 16, Number 12 (B. Lewis, Ed.) (16). Jacksonville, FL: Christianity Magazine.