Summary: Apathy is so elusive is that it usually works in tandem with some other toxic habit. Apathy seems to want to work as the set-up punch to other sins.
Happy Labor Day Weekend to all of you. We continue our sermon series on the Seven Deadly Sins of the Family. Our fourth deadly sin for families is apathy. But I don’t care what you call it. (Yes, I thought we would honor hard workers everywhere by talking about laziness on Labor Day weekend!)
This deadly sin is classically referred to as slothfulness. Nowadays when you say, “sloth,” people just think of really cute animals that we make memes about, or the sloth that works at the DMV in Zootopia (which is hilarious). But, there’s nothing humorous about the deadly sin of apathy.
Find your way to 2 Thessalonians in your Bible. We’ll land there in the moments to come.
1. The Camouflage of “I Couldn’t Care Less”
Beware of the camouflage of the attitude of “I Couldn’t Care Less.”
1.1 The Difficult Diagnosis of Apathy
Apathy sneaks up on us live a Navy Seal approaching his target with tremendous stealth. Indifference and apathy will have arrived before we even know it’s near. I was dead before I was ever aware there was an enemy lurking. Such is the work of apathy.
Now, apathy is elusive. Like a doctor working to identify a mysterious illness in her patient, apathy hides itself from plain sight. The doctor may speculate a dozen other illnesses before the illness of indifference and apathy becomes apparent. Beware of the camouflage of the attitude of “I Couldn’t Care Less.”
1.2 Get a JOB!
One of the reasons apathy is so elusive is the supposed “quick” remedy to fix it. We scream like an old man at the next generation, “Get a job!” But screaming at apathy doesn’t make it go away. And simply “getting a job” may hide apathy for a season, but it often reemerges.
Now, the Bible loves for us to work. Even the model “Proverbs 31” woman is commended for her willingness to work: “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27). But hard work alone isn’t the answer. Why? Because busyness can also camouflage the sin of sloth.
1.3 The Reasons Behind Our Work
You may work exceptionally hard because you feel someone else is getting ahead of you - ENVY. You may work exceptionally hard because you want to prove yourself - PRIDE. Or, you may work exceptionally hard because you want more - GREED. You see, your hard work can be motivated by sin. You have to understand the motivation behind your work.
1.4 Biblical Survey of Apathy
When you’re trying to figure out apathy, think of Caleb of the Old Testament. He was the antonym of apathy for his day. The old man, Caleb gave a minority report among the spies of Israel, if you’ll remember. Caleb encouraged the nation of Israel to take the land despite the size of the enemy (Numbers 14:24-38). And 45 years later, he was still zealous take the land when he says, “Give me this hill for the Lord” (Joshua 14:6-12).
Complacency, apathy, and indifference are when you don’t care enough to start anything: “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4). It was affluent apathy when the everyone was building their houses better and nicer than the temple during Haggai’s day. Years later, Jesus pictured a complacent person talking to himself: “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry’” (Luke 12:19). Jesus said that man’s soul will be required of him immediately. It was apathy that made God want to puke when the church at Laodicea had a lukewarm love for their Savior (Revelation 3:16).
1.5 Finding My Purpose
Now the man who writes 2 Thessalonians was anything but idle. When he was younger, he was the chief of sinners, and after seeing Jesus, he was the chief of saints. If Paul were anything, he was a man on the move.
According to Acts, Paul established the church in Thessalonica on his Second Missionary Journey - his second lap around the Roman Empire starting churches and helping them grow. Paul has left them to start churches in other places, but he still has friends back in Thessalonica. In an age before FaceTime, he sits down to write a letter to encourage this new church in Thessalonica - and to address some of the issues going on there.
Look what he prayers to believers in verse 11: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12).