If blessings are a joy, and curses tear down or build strength, depending on the receiver, apathy allows rot. Blessings are good for the soul, and curses can be blessings in disguise, but apathy – indifference – even God doesn’t tolerate it.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16
Let’s do it this way: If you ask someone on a date, would you prefer an enthusiastic yes, a firm no, or a “I guess we could, unless something else comes up. . .” ?
So many relationships start with enthusiasm (positive or negative) and fade to apathy. Some live with it the rest of their lives, and some spit out the tepidness that once was refreshingly cool or soothingly warm. Indifference is toxic.
Where do we see it? In jobs, in marriages, in friendships, and in spirituality.
How do we recognize it? If you’re on the receiving end, there’s little question on this point, but it is hard to recognize in ourselves when we are on the giving (or NOT giving) end.
In marriage, if you haven’t reached for your spouse, given yourself, made yourself vulnerable, you might be tepid. If your response to the same from your husband or wife has lately been something along the lines of “let’s get this over with,” whether out loud or not, or even just a “whatever” or “might as well,” you might be tepid. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your partner hasn’t noticed. If this is you, your spouse is exhibiting a strong love to stay in it.
In a job, if you are working only when people are looking, watching the clock for the last two hours of each day, updating your resume’ at the office – don’t believe no one is noticing. You may have become lukewarm. And your superiors are likely more aware than you think. You don’t get written up for this, you get replaced.
In friendships, there is sometimes one who maintains it with lunch invites, periodic messages to check on the other, and the occasional drop in, and then there is the other. If you haven’t taken a deliberate action to maintain the relation lately, you may have a better friend than you are.
Finally, spirituality. We are made in God’s image. So I’m submitting that God understands all the above. He notices indifference in much the same ways, and I believe He experiences the same emotions when our enthusiasm wanes as we do when we experience someone else’s apathy toward us. It numbs us instead of actually hurting us. It’s a slow, silent killer.
But doesn’t it work from both sides, even in spirituality? How often have I felt ignored by God? How does He expect me to believe and show faith if He’s not showing up and visiting?
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Cor. 12:27
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ Matt. 25:37-40
So what if I suggested that God is showing up and visiting, through the church, or His people? Instead of reading the above as I am part of the Body of Christ, what if we read it as recognizing others as part of the Body of Christ, and therefore not rejecting them based on minor differences, or favorite sins?
God may be speaking to you through an unexpected source! Look what He did with Balaam in Numbers 22:21 et seq.
Something to ponder… especially for us introverts. Apathy is not a characteristic of God.