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Craig Smith - Apathy

Craig Smith - Apathy
TOPICS: Potholes, Apathy

Well, welcome to Mission Hills. So glad you’re with us. I’m really glad to be back. I had a couple weeks off with my family, including my parents for some rest and rejuvenation, which is great, but really glad to be back with you and really excited to be launching new summer series called Potholes. Several years ago I was in college and I was driving an old Nissan Sentra station wagon, I was coming home from college in the spring and I had some stuff on my mind. To be perfectly honest, I’d met this woman and I was pretty sure that God was calling her to be involved in my life full time. And I was, because I was probably thinking about her, I turned off the highway and onto the road that led to my parents’ actually the road that I had driven a thousand times.

So I just really, I was kind of on autopilot thinking about Coletta and, you know, about what the summer was gonna look like. And I was probably going just a little faster than I should have been, but no big deal, you know, my car was loaded down with stuff and everything’s going along fine. I’m driving and all over sudden bam! like the car did this massive jolt and it sort of bounced and then it bounced again and it bounced again. And I looked in the rearview mirror and I saw two things. Number one, I saw a huge pothole. Number two, I saw pieces of my car bouncing along on the road beside the pothole. And that’s the potentially destructive power of pause.

How many of us have ever hit a pothole way harder than we anticipated? Yeah, they can be controllable, be destructive. And that’s true when we’re talking about like literal roads, but it’s really true as well when we talk about the road of life. And so there are potholes in the road of life that can do incredible damage and then ones on the actual roads can take off our muffler or maybe do some damage to our suspension. The potholes in the road of life can kill our relationships, they can derail our dreams. And ultimately, they can take us off the mission that God has called us to. And so what we’re gonna do for the next few weeks, is we’re gonna take a look at what God has to say about identifying and avoiding some of the biggest potholes that we can encounter in life.

Now, our guide for that is gonna be the Book of Proverbs. And I love the Book of Proverbs. I spent a lot of time in it over the last few years, especially lately I’ve decided every day I actually read a Proverb and God’s used it really powerfully in my life, and so I’m really excited to be able to share some of the wisdom from the Book of Proverbs. If you’re not familiar with Proverbs, you should be aware that it’s a little different than a lot of the books of the Bible in that it doesn’t have any real stories. There’s no extended teaching sections, and so a little different than what we normally do. Normally, we do what we call expository teaching is where we either go through a whole book verse by verse or a section of a book verse by verse. We’re gonna jump around a little bit more as we’re gonna kind of pull the wisdom out of the Book of Proverbs because what Proverbs is mostly built on is what we might call sound bites. They’re sort of short, pithy wisdom sayings. And so we’re gonna look at these wisdom sayings around certain subjects each week. And our subject for this week is the subject of laziness.

I always love the sound that goes through. It’s interesting. If you’re watching online, there was just this kind of uncomfortable like, ah. Okay, let’s just take a feel for the room, shall we? How many of us, let’s just start easy. How many of us know somebody who is lazy. Don’t look around. Just look right at me, okay? All right. How many of us, we’re the lazy person, right? How many of us would have raised our hand because it’s true, but we’re just like, ah, I just can’t go there again today. Sorry, that was a lame pastor joke right there. Here’s the reality. You know, it’s easier to see laziness in other people than it is in ourselves. For ourselves, we tend to go, why, It’s not that I’m lazy. Yes, there is this thing right here that I know I should do, but I haven’t managed to find the motivation to it or yeah, I know I should do this or that. And we have these pockets, but we don’t really call it laziness, we tend to identify it to something else, but other people look at it like, well yeah, you’re just being lazy, right? So I haven’t done that.

And so even if we don’t struggle with like laziness across the board, I think all of us struggle with these pockets of laziness. And so that’s kinda where can I kind of deal with today. So why don’t you go and grab a Bible, start, making your way to the Book of Proverbs. We’re gonna start in chapter 10 today and what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna see several truths about laziness. The first of which is just this, it’s that laziness is a potentially destructive force in our lives. Laziness is a potentially destructive force in our lives, not even potentially, laziness is a destructive force in our lives. It always is. It’s a destructive force in our lives. Proverbs 10:4 says this, it says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

And you know, the first things we probably need to do there is is disabuse you of any misunderstanding of wealth that you had. Because when we think about the word wealth, we tend to go, yeah, other people are wealthy. And I won’t ask for a show of hands, but if I asked, how many of us feel that we are wealthy? Only a few very spiritual people will be like, oh yes. Most of us go, no, no, I’m not a wealthy. Now I know somebody is, that guy, that’s wealthy, that family, she is wealthy. Those people. I mean we think Jeff Bezos from Amazon, we think Bill Gates, right? We go those people are wealthy, but biblically, you’re wealthy as soon as you have more than you need. Even if it’s just a little bit, as soon as you have more than you actually need, you are moving into the realm of wealth. And so chances are everybody listening to this is probably in the category of wealthy, okay?

Poverty in other hand is people who have less than they need, right? And what the proverb here is saying is that lazy hands lead to having less than we need. Lazy hands lead to less of what we need. Okay? This isn’t a promise that if you are hardworking, you’ll be the next Bill Gates. That’s great if it happens, if any, if we have more than what we need and we can be generous with it, that’s fantastic. But this isn’t really a promise you’re gonna be the next Bill Gates. It is a promise, however, that when we are lazy, we will have less of what we need, okay? Proverbs 20:4 says almost exactly the same thing. It says “Sluggards do not plow in season. And so at harvest time they look, but they find nothing.” Sluggards, slug-like people like is, because just to be honest. Can you imagine an animal that is less appealing to be compared to than a slug, right? It’s what it’s saying, lazy people are like slugs, right? You know, slow-moving, slimy, snot lumps, right? That’s what we’re dealing with. It’s an incredibly insulting kind of an image.

But what’s interesting to me about this proverb is that it highlights the particularly destructive power of occasional laziness, right? I mean the first one was just, you know, lazy hands lead to poverty. But here it talks specifically about being lazy, not necessarily across the board but at specific moments. When you’re lazy at planting time, you’re gonna not have what you need at harvest time. And that highlights the importance of paying attention to when we’re lazy even occasionally because even occasional laziness has the potential to be really destructive. And it’s not always in terms of just planting or even in terms of money, there are times that we’re called to be active in certain ways, and that sets the stage for God to do something else down the line. And if we don’t do what God’s called us to do at that time, we’re not gonna be able to reap the rewards when we actually have the need of it, right?

And so you can talk about it in terms of planting, obviously planting at spring harvesting in the fall. You can talk about it in terms of financial planning. If we don’t invest, you know, when we’re young, we may not have what we need when we’re older. If we spend all of our money, even though we don’t have to, when we’re young, we won’t have what we need when we get older. We can think about it in terms of our relationships. When we don’t invest in our relationships now, we won’t be able to lean on those relationships when we have a need for them at other points in our lives. When we don’t invest in our education at the right time, we won’t be able to build careers later on.

And so occasional laziness is just as destructive as across the board laziness. And the point again is that laziness is the destructive forces in our lives. And it’s not just destructive for us personally, individually, it’s also destructive for the people involved in our lives. This is Proverbs 10:26. “As vinegar to the teeth.” Vinegar is an acid. It dissolves the enamel of teeth if you spend a lot of time with it in your mouth. And in the ancient world, they had a lot of drinks based on vinegar. If it spent a lot of time in your mouth, it takes the enamel off your teeth, they get soft and ultimately they rot. So it’s destructive. “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes.”

How many of you have ever been camping? Right? And when you pick your spot at the campfire, you try to find the spot where the smoke is not being blown by the wind, right? And inevitably it changes direction. And then you got to change because it’s painful, right? I mean it makes your eyes red and waters, soot gets in and it’s really quite an irritant. He says, “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes so are sluggards, so are lazy people to those who send them.” In other words, to those who ask them to do things, right? So if your husband or your wife asks you to do something and you don’t do it, you are like smoke to their eyes. You are like vinegar to their teeth. If your boss asked you to do something and you don’t do it, you are like vinegar to their teeth or smoke in their eyes. You know, if your kids or your parents ask you to do something, the point is that it’s damaging to them.

At the very best, best case scenario, it’s an irritant, right? The very best-case scenario, when we don’t do what people ask us to do, we irritate them. Worst case we can actually do damage to them. So laziness is a potentially destructive force, not only in our own lives but in the lives of other people around us. That’s probably why Proverbs 18:9 says this, “One who is slack in his worker, one who was lazy in his work, is brother to one who… What’s that word Church? “Destroys.” The person who is lazy in their work is actually a relative to the destructive person, right? And we don’t usually think of it that way. I think we tend to think of lazy people as people who don’t produce anything, but what God tells us is no, that’s not true. Lazy people do produce something. They produce destruction, they produce destruction, they produce destructive influences in people’s lives.

And I think the reason for that is very simple. It’s because lazy people consume without contributing, right? Lazy people still consume resources, but they don’t contribute resource. They consume without contributing. I mean, think about big-picture stuff. There was a study done in 2016 that found in the United States alone, laziness when it comes to physical exercise, just basic stuff, getting up, walking around, you know, a few minutes a day, that kind of thing. Laziness based on physical laziness, physical exercise accumulates $27.8 billion a year in unnecessary medical expenses in this country. Just, in other words, medical costs that didn’t have to be paid, it wasn’t a disease or anything like that. Things that could have easily been avoided if there had just been basic physical activity, but our laziness cost the country $27.8 billion. That’s a lot of consumption, right? Flip it around. A study last year found that the average American worker…it’s going to get really uncomfortable here, for you Facebook fans and you Twitter followers and you Instagram alcoholics. Average American worker wastes between 30 minutes and three hours a day. A day, which accounts for $450 to $550 billion in lost revenue in the United States alone. That’s a lot of not contributing, right?

And it’s not even just big picture stuff. I mean, let’s get really personal for a second, okay? Can we be vulnerable with each other? Now you’re like, what let’s see where this goes first, right? How many of you have ever bought something that had a rebate, never sent the rebate in? Never got around to it. Come on. Yeah. People online just say, that’s me, right? How many of you have or still have subscriptions or memberships that you haven’t canceled but you’re not actually using? That’s a really big one for me. Actually, it’s not true for me because I knew I was gonna preach this, this week and so I, this week I went there, I was like, Whoa, that’s got…I did not know I was still paying for that. Right. It’s laziness that consumes resources without actually contributing anything, right? That’s why laziness is a destructive force on all of us and by the way, it’s not just true practically. It’s also true spiritually, do you know that? Laziness is destructive spiritually as well because we’re made to work.

Genesis 1:28 when God made the first human beings. Verse 28 says, “God blessed them and he said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it.'” And that subdue word in particular. That’s a hardwork word. In the Hebrew, it means to wrestle somebody in the ground and maintain control over it. That’s what we were made to do. We are made to work hard and I know some of our reactions that is, “What? I thought. God loved us. If God loved us why would he make…?” Because God loves us he made us to work hard because without hard work, there’s no sense of satisfaction, without hard work, there’s no sense of completion. There’s no sense of joy. Hard work is at the root of all of those things. If you’ve ever worked hard at something and succeeded and you’ve experienced the profound sense of satisfaction, you know what I’m talking about? How many of you have been satisfied because you worked hard and succeeded at something? Yeah, it’s a powerful thing and it’s healthy. It’s actually a healing thing for us.

When you flip it around however, the lack of hard work actually becomes really detrimental to us. I was in Zimbabwe several years ago doing some training for pastors in Zimbabwe and I spent a lot of time with the pastors. One of the questions that I asked them was, you know, what are the big problems in the Church in Zimbabwe? And the first one wasn’t all that surprising to me. The first one they said is that we struggle with a lot of false teaching coming into the Church and I got that. The second one really surprised me. They said the second biggest problem for the Church in Zimbabwe is unemployment.

Now, at the time Zimbabwe was running at about 93% unemployment. And it wasn’t because of their laziness, it is just they wanted the opportunities, but the fact of the matter is that not working had had a big impact on them. First, I thought when they said that that was a big problem, I thought, well you meant they don’t have any resources to contribute to the Church and the mission of the Church. And they went, no, no, no, no, no. They said the problem is that it’s killing our people. It’s killing their sense of dignity and significance and self-worth. And because that dies, then they get involved in all kinds of other things that just destroy them.

It’s a spiral that begins with the sense that I don’t have anything meaningful to do, therefore I am not meaningful. But by the way, this is one of the reasons why I believe that the way that our country, the way our culture thinks about retirement is incredibly unhealthy. Because people often have an idea, I’m gonna get to a certain point in my life and I’m not gonna work anymore, I’m not gonna contribute anymore. And let me tell you something. If you go into retirement with that attitude, rather than going into the retirement with the attitude, now I can focus on different kinds of work. I can contribute in some other meaningful way. If we don’t do that, it will kill you. It will kill your soul.

I’ve seen it over and over again and I saw it in Zimbabwe. We were driving around after the conference and we pulled into this area and I saw there were just hundreds of people sitting around on little chairs leaning up against walls, sitting on curbs, hundreds of them. We drove in and there was a kind of a scary moment, I’ll be perfectly honest, when somebody kind of spotted the van we were in and who was in it and I heard him yell, “Hey look, white people.” I was like, what is about to happen? And we were mobbed. I mean they just, they surrounded, they were yelling. It took me a while to kind of sort through the sound of what they were yelling. But you know what they ended up yelling every single one of them? They were asking if we had jobs. Not a single one of them asked for a handout, not a single one of them. They were desperate for jobs. And I could see it in their eyes this like I need to be involved in something. But here’s the truth, okay? Humans were made to work hard and to honor God with the results of our labor. And when we can’t do that, when we don’t do that, whether it’s because of a lack of opportunity or because of a lack of motivation, it’s painful, it’s damaging, it’s destructive, not just practically, it’s destructive spiritually. Here is the first truth we need to understand. Laziness is a destructive force in our lives, both practically and spiritually, okay?

Here’s the second truth we need to understand. Laziness isn’t really the problem. Laziness is actually a symptom. Do you know that? Laziness is a symptom and we probably should know that because we’ve probably all been accused of being lazy at some point in our lives for something and we’ve gone, no, I’m not lazy, there’s just, there are obstacles, right? There’s a reason why I haven’t done it. I don’t have time, I don’t have the energy. There’s a variety of those kinds of things, right? But laziness is just a symptom. It’s easier to find laziness in other people. When other people call us lazy, we’re like, no, no, no, you don’t understand the obstacles, right?

Let me explain what I mean. Here’s the thing. There are obstacles to every action. There are always obstacles to action. Anything that we’re gonna do, there’s an obstacle to it, right? I mean, even if it’s as simple as, you know, I’m sitting on the couch and I got to get up and do something, I have to overcome this physical force called inertia. Gravity is working against me, right? It’s why there’s a physics law that says an object at rest tends to stay at rest, right? A butt on the couch tends to stay a butt on the couch. It doesn’t magically become a butt in the kitchen or a butt out in the yard, okay? We have to overcome gravity. We have to overcome a lack of energy, there’s all kinds of things, they’re obstacles to action. Sometimes they’re very simple kind of physical things, but sometimes the obstacles action are a much more deeper and they’re more profound and there are sometimes spiritual issues. Sometimes we have to overcome the obstacle of feeling like, you know, I don’t like doing that.

Anybody grew up doing a chore you didn’t like doing? How many of you had kids so you can make them do the chores so you didn’t ever have to do that chore again? Right? Soon as we have to overcome the obstacle, I don’t like this. Sometimes we have to overcome the obstacle of, I don’t see the importance of this. I don’t see why this needs to be done. For me, making the bed, I just don’t get it. Like people don’t get tours of the bedrooms, so nobody’s in there. I think the bed is for sleeping, so I feel like you should make easy access as much as possible. Is not how my wife feels about it. And so I have to throw the opposite goal of like, I just, I don’t see the significance of doing this.

Sometimes, the obstacle we deal with is like, I don’t know how to do this right? Like I know this needs to happen, but I’m not even sure where to start. Spent some time this past week with my mom and she’s realizing my dad’s aging and declining a little bit that she really kind of needs to get a handle on some of their financial stuff to figure out what they can do and it’s just so overwhelming because she doesn’t even know where to start. She doesn’t know how to go about doing the financial stuff. So, you know, I’m gonna come in and help out, but I understand that it’s not that she’s lazy, it’s that she’s got an obstacle that she doesn’t even know how to begin. Sometimes the obstacle is honestly, we’ve been criticized every time we tried to do something or that particular thing that it gets harder and harder to do that thing because all we get is criticism.

Sometimes, we’re afraid, we’re afraid we’re gonna fail, we’re afraid we’re going to get more criticism. But the point is for every action there’s an obstacle. And here’s what that means. It means that action, always, action requires enough motivation to overcome the obstacle, right? That makes sense, church? Action requires enough motivation to overcome the obstacle. And by the way, we have another word for that. We have a word for a lack of motivation or for an insufficient or inadequate motivation. We have a word for not having enough motivation to overcome the obstacles to action. You know what we call that inadequate motivation? We call it apathy.

Apathy from the Greek “apathos,” “a” meaning, no, “pathos” meaning passion or motivation. Here’s the truth. Laziness is a symptom of apathy. It’s a symptom of not having enough motivation to overcome whatever obstacles, big or small, real or imagined are in front of us. Laziness is a symptom of apathy. Proverbs 26 or 24:30 says this, “I went past the field of a sluggard of a lazy person, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense. Thorns had come up everywhere. The ground was covered with weeds. The stone wall was in ruins.” He’s just saying that laziness is a destructive force, but I wanna focus in on that word “sense” for just a second because the translation is interesting here. The Hebrew word that’s being translated there can be sense, but it’s not usually sense and I’m actually a little puzzled why they chose that one here.

The Hebrew word is “leb,” which you don’t care about. You don’t need to know the actual word. I mean try to work that into a conversation today. Sometimes you’re going to look very spiritual and all that, but what you do need to know is the word “leb” has several different possible translations. The most common translation for “leb” is actually heart. It’s really the Hebrew word for heart. In fact, it’s used very frequently. Most commonly in the Hebrew Bible to say things like, “Don’t lose heart.” In other words, don’t lose your motivation to keep moving. Or “Take heart.” You can overcome this, you can do this. In other words, it’s not just an intellectual word, it’s a motivation word. And so on some sense what the writer of Proverbs here says is, ”I went past the field of a lazy person.” Let me explain that a little further. I went past the field of a person who has no heart, who has no motivation. In other words, I went past the field of a person who is apathetic, who is struggling with apathy. For whatever reason, they’re not getting it done. They’re not overcome the obstacles. And then here’s the results. Why does this matter? Because when we deal with laziness head-on, we usually fail.

I mean, how many of you have known a lazy person, you told them stop being lazy and it worked? Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of that. You know somebody went, why don’t you do that? Or why don’t you do that and they haven’t done it and then you’re like, oh, you’re lazy. And they’re like, you’re right, I am, so I won’t be lazy anymore ever again. It just doesn’t work, right? Because here’s the thing. When we deal with the symptoms, the symptoms just keep coming back. So what we need to do is we need to deal with the source. And if laziness as a symptom of this underlying apathy of this inadequate motivation to overcome the obstacles to action, then what we really need to deal with is the apathy. And this is really an important thing. It’s really important when we’re dealing with our own lives. It’s also important as we’re dealing with other people in our lives that maybe we’re frustrated with because we don’t understand why they won’t get that done or that done or that done. So we don’t think in these terms, right? We go, laziness is just, that’s the condition, right? I mean, he didn’t do that, he’s lazy. She didn’t do that, she’s lazy. Well, I didn’t do that. It’s not because I’m lazy. There’s obstacles and I just haven’t gotten the motivation, right?

So we recognize it in ourselves intuitively. We need to recognize it in others as well and whether it’s in others or in ourselves. What we need to deal with is not the symptom. We need to go to the source. We need to deal with this apathy issue. So let’s get really practical here, church. Here’s what I want you to do. Spend just a moment right now and should ask yourself this question. What is something I know I need to do but haven’t managed to actually do? I’d like you to think very practically, right? What is something maybe that you’ve been thinking about for why, like I know I needed to do that, but haven’t managed to do it. Maybe something that you feel like God’s been calling you to do. Maybe it’s something that somebody in your life has been telling you, you need to do and you know you need to do it. Maybe it’s something that you want to do that you know would be good for you and others. Well, whatever it is. What is something that you know you need to do but you haven’t actually managed to do?

I want you to have some of your practical in your minds because what we’re gonna do now is we’re gonna look at two other questions. The second question is this. We’re going to ask, what’s the source of the apathy? What’s the source of that thing that’s keeping me from getting the motivation to overcome whatever obstacles there are, big or small, real or imagined? I’m gonna give you some ways to think about the answer to that question in just a moment. And then the third question we’re gonna ask is, what truth do I need to embrace in order to overcome that apathy? Okay, so we’re gonna go, where does the apathy come from? And then what truth from God’s Word do I need to embrace, hold on to so that I can begin to overcome that lack of motivation to overcome those obstacles to action? Okay, so hopefully you have something in mind here.

I’m gonna give you five things that I think very commonly are the source of the apathies that we face. Source number one is apathy can come from being exhausted. Anybody feel like you’re just so well rested right now? Just an overabundance of energy, can’t believe how much. Anybody feels just a little tiny bit exhausted right now? It’s kind of epidemic in the modern world, right? Apathy can come from being exhausted because we spend all of our energy doing this and this and this and this. I know I need to do this, but by the time we get to that, I don’t have the energy. We run, we run, we run, right? We have never been a people ever in history that had been as busy as we are now. We’re on 24/7. We’re running all the time and we’re exhausted as a people. And I think sometimes the apathy, that inability to overcome those obstacles to action, it comes from just being exhausted. So what truth do we embrace if that’s the issue? Maybe the issue you’re thinking of, you’re like, yeah, that’s the reason I haven’t done it’s because I’m exhausted. Then what truth do you need to embrace? You need to embrace this truth that I need to rediscover the lost art of rest.

Do you know we were made to have rest in our lives? Yes. God made us to work hard and to honor him with the results of the labor, but he also made us to rest. Listen, this is one of the big 10, right? Top 10, 10 Commandments. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God and on it you shall not do any work. We’re made to work hard but we’re also made to rest, and most of us honestly have lost a significant and regular rhythm of rest. I’m speaking to you as the chief sinner among you.

For years, I paid no attention to this need for a rhythm of rest. I worked way too many hours and almost every day of the week. Just in the last year or so am I really kind of pushing in to rediscovering what it means to be obedient to this kind command. You understand that, this is a compassionate command. This is a command designed to benefit us. Sometimes we think about the Sabbath and we go, yeah, but isn’t that mostly about worship? Nope. It’s actually not mostly about worship. In fact, check this up. Mark 2:27, Jesus himself said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Sabbaths is for you. It’s for me. And so if you’re struggling to overcome obstacles to action because you’re exhausted, then you need to embrace this truth that we need to rediscover the lost art of rest.

Apathy can also come from being overwhelmed. Maybe for some of you, this is really the reason that you haven’t done that thing that God brought to your mind is because you’re overwhelmed because we have so many voices speaking to us going, well, this is important and that’s important, and this is important, did you hear about this? Oh, you need to care about this, you need to be involved in this. And there’s just so many voices speaking that we just get overwhelmed and we go, I don’t know where to start and I don’t even know what voices I need to listen to because they’re constantly speaking to us, right? We have never lived in an era where we had more voices speaking messages than we have today, right?

I mean our phones are constantly popping off. We’ll pay attention to this voice. The news is constantly popping up. Oh, did you hear about this? Did you know about this? Oh, you should worry about this. You should do something about this. Oh my gosh, this is happening. So many people around. I mean, we have all these voices speaking in. So sometimes apathy comes just from being overwhelmed. So what do we do? Maybe that thing that you’re thinking about, you’re like, yeah, I’m just overwhelmed. I can’t figure out how to start. Here’s the truth we need to embrace. I need to learn to limit the voices that I’m listening to and there’s too many voices speaking in our lives. We need to learn to limit the number of voices that we’re listening to.

Several years ago I made a deliberate decision and it’s a little controversial for a pastor. In fact, I’ll probably get some emails challenging me on this one. I stopped listening to the news. I stopped watching the news. Oh, did not expect that. I usually actually get criticism about that because a pastor needs to be aware of everything that’s going on. I was like, that’s not healthy for my soul. And so I decided, you know what? I think God’s gonna tell me what I really need to know. God’s gonna bring into my path information that I really need to pay attention to. Because the problem with the news, it was just, there’s just so much and like and all, we should do this and I want the church to get involved in this or we should do. I should. Maybe I could, and then we can… Ah, we’re overwhelmed and maybe that’s you, right? Listen to the voice of God.

Psalm 46:10 he says, “Be still.” It’s hard to do when you’re listening to all those voices. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” So who should we be listening to? Who should be listening to his voice? And so we need to stop listening to so many voices and we need to start listening to the voice that’s more important. So I stopped listening to the news and I started spending a whole lot more time reading God’s word and praying and a whole lot more time asking God to speak to me and to bring across my path any information that day that I needed. I didn’t need CNN to be in charge of that. I needed the Holy Spirit to do it. And it’s been really powerful in my life. I’ve begun to go, okay, when there are not so many voices speaking, I can tell which voices need to be listened to and acted on and apathy begins to dissipate. Sometimes apathy comes from feeling powerless.

Soon as apathy comes because we feel like I don’t think I can make a difference here, I don’t think I can possibly accomplish that. That’s such a big issue. Whether it’s in my family, my neighborhood, at work, in the world, that’s such a big thing, it’s such a big problem. I don’t think I can make any difference. I don’t think I can produce the results that need to be produced and that becomes a lack of motivation that we can’t overcome those obstacles to action. So maybe that’s you. Maybe as you think about this thing you know you’d needed to do, but you haven’t actually done, maybe you realize right now, yeah, it’s because I just don’t feel powerful enough to pull it off. What truth do I embrace? And the answer is this, I need to remember that I can actually do everything God actually calls me to do. And I want you to pay attention to that. I can do, I absolutely can do. I can succeed at the things God actually calls me to do.

Philippians 4:13. Familiar verse to a lot of you, maybe it’s the first time you’re hearing it, you need to understand it’s a powerful verse. It says this, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Now, by the way, that “all things” doesn’t mean all things. In this sense. It doesn’t mean like if you decide I’m gonna be president of the United States, no guarantees. It doesn’t mean if you decide I’m gonna be the next Jeff Bezos, invent the next Amazon, no guarantees. What it means is I can do all the things that God calls me to do, all the things that God puts in my path and calls me to be faithful with.

And by the way, speaking of faithfulness, the other thing that needs to happen here is we need to recognize what it is that God actually counts as success. Because here’s another one. See, apathy can come from feeling discouraged. It can come from feeling discouraged. It can come from feeling like I’ve tried and I haven’t made a difference. I did this and I didn’t see the results I wanted, or I can’t live up to their expectations. I can’t accomplish all these things. And so we feel discouraged. Maybe we naturally feel that way. Maybe you’re hardwired as a glass is half full kind of person, or maybe you’re wired as a glass is half empty kinda person. Maybe you’re naturally more of a pessimist or honestly, maybe the discouragement’s been piled on to you by parents or teachers or a spouse or by somebody that’s just constantly criticizing, constantly saying you never live up, constantly saying you just not good enough. And so we’re discouraged and it’s hard to move forward.

Here’s what we need to understand. This is what we needed to embrace. We need to remember that God measures success by faithfulness, not by results. This is so important, friends. God measure success by faithfulness. Now here’s the thing. You’re never gonna have a result that impresses God. Like you’re never gonna do something that he goes, wow, I never thought they would pull off those results. Never gonna happen. God is impressed by faithfulness, that we do whatever it is that he puts before us to do and we are faithful in that. I can do all things that God actually calls me to do. And he measures success by faithfulness not by results. So we need to stop looking at the results that we’ve held ourselves to or that others have held us to. And in that way, we begin to defeat the discouragement that generates this apathy that keeps us moving forward.

And then finally, just this, apathy can come from being afraid, can come from fear. Fear that we won’t succeed, that we won’t make the results, that we’re looking for. Fear that we’ll be criticized, fear that we’ll be misunderstood. Fear. And maybe as you think about that thing that you know you need to do, but you just haven’t managed to do it yet, maybe fear is the source of the apathy that’s keeping you from overcoming those obstacles to action. So what truth do we embrace at that point? Just this, I need to remember that the spirit that empowers me is not a spirit of fear. Fear is a voice that the world whispers with. It’s not the voice of the Holy Spirit that is in you as a follower of Jesus Christ. The Spirit who empowers you is not a spirit of fear.

Listen to Paul’s words to the Church at Rome, chapter 8 of Romans. He says this, he says, “The Spirit that you received, when you put your faith in Jesus, the Spirit that you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again. No. Rather the Spirit that you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” You’re a beloved child. You’re not trying to live up to standards that nobody can and constantly falling short and disappointing your God. No, no. You’ve been adopted as a son and by this Spirit, by him, we cry ‘Abba, Father.'” A Father who loves us deeply for who we are, not for what we do, but a God who calls us to do so that we can be on mission with him. We can make a difference in the world, we can drive back darkness and he gives us these things to do and we need to overcome the apathy that keeps us from overcoming the obstacles to action. Laziness is not really the problem. Laziness is a symptom of apathy, of a lack of passion, of a lack of motivation. And every one of those sources of apathy has a truth that when we embrace it will allow us to overcome it.

So my hope is this very practical in your life in those areas where you’re struggling. My hope is also that you can take this and you can be on mission with Jesus because you’re surrounded by people. I promise you there are people in your life who are struggling with apathy. And my hope is that you can take some of this practical truth today and you can use it to make a difference in their lives. So here’s the question I want you to go out of here thinking about. Who in my life is struggling with apathy and how can I help? My hope is this makes a difference in your life. My hope is also that you can make a difference in somebody else’s life. Let this truth spill into you and also spill out of you into the world. Would you pray with me?

God, thank you so much for the gift of your truth and the gift of hard work and the gift of the opportunity to do things that make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. We thank you for that. Lord, we confess to you the sin of like laziness, and we confess to you that the root cause of the sin of apathy, that we’ve allowed voices to speak that we shouldn’t be listening to. We’ve allowed obstacles to be built that we should not be obstructed by. And so we have places in all of our lives that we have failed to act because we haven’t summoned the motivation by embracing truth to overcome those. And so, Lord, we confess that to you, we ask for your forgiveness and we ask for the ability through your Holy Spirit to embrace the truth that allows us to overcome that apathy.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you begin praying for the people around you, people listening online who don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. And if that’s you, wherever you are, I just wanna speak to you for just a moment. I want you to understand that even though you may not have a relationship with God, God wants a relationship with you. And God is not apathetic about that relationship. He’s not apathetic about you. You need to understand that we actually as individuals, we all throw up obstacles to God’s love because of what we call sin. We do wrong. We’re selfish, we’re jealous, we’re self-centered, we’re trying to be little g gods and do it on our own and all of that sin creates a barrier between us and God.

The Bible says the wages or the consequence of sin is death. We’ve thrown up the obstacles. But God is so not apathetic about you. Here’s how not apathetic he is. He sent his own Son who lived a perfect life. He died on the cross. He paid the price for every wrong thing we’ve ever done. He paid the price to remove the obstacles we paid up. That’s how not apathetic God is about you. Three days later, he raised Jesus from the dead to prove as a fact of history that he had defeated death, defeated the power of sin, and then he can offer you new life and forgiveness. God is not apathetic about you. And if you are listening to this and you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in what Jesus did, and you’re ready to say yes to that, if you’re ready to have that relationship, will you just slip your hand up right now. That’s awesome. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me. Wherever you are, you just had this conversation with God. Say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’ve thrown up the obstacles. I’m sorry. I thank you for not being apathetic about me. Jesus, thank you for coming. Thank you for dying on the cross from me. I believe that you rose from the dead, and I understand right now that you’re offering me forgiveness, adoption into the family of God, a Spirit of power and not of fear and not of apathy. I’m ready to say yes, Jesus. I’m putting my trust in you right here, right now. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord, my Savior. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.

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