And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29, NKJV)
The giant’s incredible size loomed over the valley as he hurled his insults toward the armies of Israel. He was a champion among the Philistine warriors, and everyone knew why: he was huge! Several feet taller than the average man, no one could hope to survive hand-to-hand combat with Goliath of Gath. No one, that is, except a youngster named David. Armed with faith in God, David displayed remarkable courage as he first challenged and then defeated the giant. His confrontation with Goliath is an impressive display of faith, courage, conviction, and the victory God gives those who rely on Him (read 1 Samuel 17). David’s brothers scolded him for talking about doing battle against the giant. His response, “Is there not a cause?” resounds today (1 Sam. 17:29). Enemies to the faith exist, the cause for battle remains (2 Cor. 10:3-6). (1) False doctrine is a mighty giant we must battle. Contending for the faith is not fashionable to many Christians, yet the cause exists (Jude 3-4). (2) Worldliness is a formidable giant we must battle. Every day, the world defies the armies of the living God (1 John 2:15-17). (3) Complacency is a dangerous giant we must battle. Apathy is an intimidating opponent we must slay with fervent zeal to do the will of Christ (Heb. 6:11; Rom. 12:11). Faith overcomes evil giants that oppose the living God (1 John 5:4). Christians must fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Take up the whole armor of God and trust God’s victory through the power of Christ (Eph. 6:10-13, 17). Soldiers of Christ, arise. The cause is great, but our God is greater (Rom. 8:37).
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)
If remembering helps us fortify our resolve in the present, forgetting helps us forge our path to the future. Forgetting is often about not letting past achievements and failures to get in the way of our aspirations and objectives as we move toward our heavenly goal. Paul chose to “forget” his previous advancements in Judaism and the confidence in the flesh they could prompt (Phil. 3:3-8). (These advancements led him to persecute Christians.) By counting them as “rubbish,” he was determined to “gain Christ” (v. 8). Paul also chose to “forget” his progress as a Christian (Phil. 3:9-11). He refused to become apathetic and neglectful in his faith; He had not yet attained “to the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11). His service to Christ was not complete (perfected, v. 12). He would keep moving forward toward the eternal prize while blessed with the “righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9, 12; Gal. 2:20). Like Paul, let us not put our confidence in the flesh and be deterred from “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (v. 14). May we live for heaven while we live on earth.
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16–18, NKJV)
How do you know someone loves you? Is it because they say, “I love you”? Well, that helps. But, saying “I love you” is convincing for only so long. We know someone truly loves us by how they treat us. Christ put His love into action by sacrificing His life for us. Likewise, we are under love’s moral obligation to sacrifice ourselves to help our brethren. While many suppose hate to be the opposite of love, in fact, love’s opposite is indifference. When we are apathetic toward someone we will not show them active goodwill (love). Indifference easily discounts and disregards others. We may say we love them, but our apathetic conduct toward them proves differently. Jesus is the embodiment of love because He “laid down His life for us.” Instead of closing our hearts to brethren in need, we must “lay down our lives” for them. That is when the love of God abides in us. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren.
Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks. (Ecclesiastes 10:18, NKJV)
Apathy is harmful to spiritual health and vitality. Apathy in this context is “an attitude of indifference and unconcern toward spiritual things. It generally ignores spiritual matters in order to place a greater emphasis on material things” (“What Is Wrong With Christian Apathy?,” Biblical Proof). Spiritual indifference is one of the besetting sins in our age of affluence, convenience, and leisure. Like ancient Israel, it is easy to become “at ease in Zion” and neglect “mercy, justice and faith” toward God and fellow human beings (Amos 6:1-6). Often generated by pride, it robs Christians of giving due time and attention to spiritual responsibilities and opportunities (Amos 6:7-8). We succumb to spiritual laziness when we are quick to address material concerns yet neglect our spiritual needs. Our hedge against spiritual apathy is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Faith, activated by godly priorities to the will of God, helps guard against spiritual decay (see Romans 12:1-2).
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:10–12, NKJV)
Christians can falter in their faith (Heb. 6:4-8). These Hebrew Christians were becoming sluggish and lazy, apathetic toward their hope and their place of service in the kingdom of God. They needed to remember that God is just and that He would not forget their devoted labor and love “toward His name”. Continue to be diligent in your faith, for there is no “full assurance of hope” in neglecting the Lord’s will. Faith thrives when it endures to the end. That is the kind of faith that inherits the promises of God.
“And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’ Therefore their goods shall become booty, and their houses a desolation; They shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.” The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly. (Zephaniah 1:12-14)
The inhabitants of ancient Jerusalem, prior to its Babylonian invasion and destruction, had reached a point of moral depravity and spiritual indifference which led them to conclude the Lord God was complacent toward them. He was not. God is never apathetic toward His purposes and His people. Those who trusted in their wealth would see them brought to desolation in the day of God’s judgment, executed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Our lesson from their history is clear: be diligently faithful to God. His majesty demands it. He will not reward the apathetic neglect of His will.