The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vine - Part 7
Song of Solomon 2:15 KJV Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
Anonymous—Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.
Elie Wiesel—The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, its indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, its indifference and the opposite of life is not death, its indifference.
Martin Niemoller—First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
G. Bowes—One apathetic Christian may do untold harm to a whole church. Pour a quantity of cool water into a pot that has boiling water and immediately the temperature change of the whole will sink. Just so the contact of men who are indifferent with those who are fervent, deadens their fervor, and tends to reduce them to the same apathy.
Where Does It Start?
Another of the little foxes that can spoil the vine is spiritual apathy. We are all susceptible to this creeping little monster and if it moves into our lives it can be quite destructive. In fact, if spiritual apathy ever gains a foothold it can spawn multiple other terrible conditions that greatly hinder the vineyard of our soul, our family, and our church. Spiritual apathy allows our spiritual battles to almost eat us alive. It opens us up to great feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated. Spiritual apathy causes us to coast and lean more on natural abilities instead of leaning on the provision of God.
Spiritual apathy often starts in a subtle manner. We are converted and it seems like we cannot get enough of the Word, positive spiritual fellowship, and corporate worship at church. Our life seems to revolve around God and His house. Our priorities are set according to spiritual events so that growth can take place. Just being involved with the things of God creates a faithfulness, strength, and passion that open doors to a great walk with God. We feel the joy of spiritual growth and can sense that the sky is the limit with what God wants to do with us.
Because of this spiritual growth and maturity that takes place, it is not long before the spiritual leaders are asking for our assistance in Sunday School classes, youth work, praying with seekers in the altar, involvement in evangelism with home Bible studies, and various other kinds of activities. For a man who is called to preach this can involve opportunities and invitations for revival services, special events, and even serving with district work. Whether it involves a saint or a preacher, these opportunities cause even more spiritual growth to take place. Suddenly because of these opportunities, we determine those greater levels of prayer, the discipline of fasting and digging into the Word will only further what God wants to do and we give ourselves to this.
However as time passes, there can be the tendency to slip into the cruise control element of ministry. It all becomes somewhat of an old hat for us to wear and we can slip by on past accomplishments. It is almost as if we could do what we are doing in our sleep. This is a dangerous place for a saint to get into and it is even doubly dangerous for a minister to fall into this condition. Usually the fallout from spiritual apathy comes into play when a new spiritual battle presents itself or an opportunity to accomplish something of great importance in the kingdom of God opens up. It is then that the realization settles in that we cannot accomplish the task because our own spiritual apathy has consumed our development.
It can happen to pastors when they refuse to allow the fresh anointing of the Holy Ghost to envelop them on a daily basis. The excitement to preach has long vacated their soul, the hunger for revival and harvest has evaporated, and there is no push to attain a greater degree of spiritual excellence in their character. It can happen to saints when they simply begin to just go through the motions and accept their defeats and live with their inconsistencies and pass them with the excuses that no one has ever achieved perfection. It can happen to churches when as a corporate body, there is little excitement focused around the whole worship experience. The press for evangelism and the great task of reaching the lost falls into the background of just maintaining the building, the grounds, and the basic necessities.
Biblical References to Spiritual Apathy
The Bible is very clear about spiritual apathy. It gives to us the cause and effect of what takes place when spiritual apathy hinders our walk with God. The Bible is also clear about some of the remedies against spiritual apathy.
· Luke 21:34-36—Caused by a party spirit, drunkenness, and the cares of life. It is like a snare that takes men by surprise. The remedy is a constant state of watchfulness in the Spirit.
· Matthew 24:12—Because of the high content of sin, love for God becomes cold.
· 1 Timothy 3:1-5—It takes place because of a gradual desensitization encouraged by a self-centered attitude.
· Amos 6:1—At ease in Zion because of carnal security (v. 1), presumptuous unbelief (v. 2-3), sensual indulgence (v. 4-6), and selfish indifference (v. 6).
· Matthew 22:12—It causes men to ignore the instructions for preparations for the wedding feast.
· Hebrews 2:1-3—It is not a deliberate turning away but an allowance of various pressures to remove one from service. Pressures such as economic, health, church, social, and family responsibilities catch up with us.
· Matthew 25:1-13—Apathy causes negligence to buy the necessary fuel for the lamp that is needed for the bridegroom’s appearance.
· Hebrews 4:1-2—A loss of fear causes spiritual apathy to settle in.
· 1 Corinthians 3:1-2—Apathy stifles spiritual growth and maturity.
· Hebrews 5:11—Apathy causes a spiritual sluggishness to develop.
· Luke 18:9-14—It causes self-deception about the true spiritual condition.
· 2 Timothy 4:3-4—It causes us not to want to hear sound teaching and doctrine.
Another biblical word that is associated with apathy would be lukewarmness. While it is not our purpose to delve into this subject, it is easy to see the relation between apathy and lukewarmness. They go hand in hand over time will have a detrimental effect on an individual and a saint.