Choosing Action over Apathy

By: Dr. Jack Graham

For any organization, any business, and any church, having a clear mission is vitally important. Likewise, in order to make wise choices, we must have a clear vision of what God wants to accomplish in our lives. And we want the vision to be great. What I’ve found is that as believers, our choices are less often between good or bad and more often between better and best.

We should desire a life that’s beyond average. We shouldn’t settle for a good marriage when we could have a great marriage. Instead of trying to raise good kids, we can train them up in the teaching of the Lord and have great, godly kids. We can settle for mundane jobs and minimal ministries or we can set standards beyond our wildest imaginations with God’s help.

Too often we settle for mediocrity. We become comfortable and satisfied where we are, and that’s where we stay. We settle for a life that’s “just okay” instead of extraordinary. Jesus talked about this type of attitude, calling it lukewarm. He said, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). Luke-warmness is an insult to God Himself!

God calls us to serve Him, and to do so we must make the spiritual choice of action over apathy. It is time to move from fence-straddling, pew-sitting, spiritual couch potatoes to being active, obedient, joyful servants of Christ!

I know what you’re thinking, because I hear it all the time: “But Pastor, I’m a very busy person. I don’t have any more room in my schedule.” Here is my response: God always calls busy people…

  • Moses was busy tending his flocks when God spoke to him out of a burning bush and called him to deliver Israel.
  • Gideon was busy threshing wheat when God called him to be the great judge and deliverer of Israel.
  • David was busy shepherding his father’s sheep when God saw his heart and called him to be a conquering king.
  • Elisha, the great prophet, was busy plowing 12 yoke of oxen when God called him to do a great work for His kingdom.

God never calls the lazy, or the idle, or the half-hearted. He calls people who are already doing things for Him. So often the most vibrant and busy people are the ones God uses in great ways. That’s why we need to get rid of our “who-cares” attitude, and our “let somebody else do it” excuses. Now is the time to engage in the work of Christ.

So how do we make the change from passive consumer of religion to passionate follower of Jesus Christ? There are three virtues in the book of Proverbs that will help us move from apathy to action.

1. Obedience

Proverbs 29:18 says this: “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” We are not only to be hearers of the Word, we are to be doers of the Word! Proverbs 21:3 echoes this truth: “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

We know that faith in Christ alone is what saves, but this faith should stir in our hearts and motivate us toward good works. The faith that saves, works. The same passage that begins with “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,” ends with, “that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Walking means doing. Are you walking in your faith today?

As part of spiritual service we are commanded to share Christ, to be witnesses. We need to be held accountable to this commandment from Christ. We are also commanded to be faithful worshipers and prayer warriors, to give generously to the work of Christ, and to love God’s Word. We are commanded to love holy lives for Christ (not just happy, but holy).Are you living in obedience to God’s instructions?

It is important to understand that this kind of commitment and obedience must be renewed daily. I’m talking about a love for Christ that obeys Him. Remember what Jesus said? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Obedience to God and His Word will move you from apathy to action!

Remember, God has put you where you are to be a witness for Him. When you are obedient to God in everything you do, He will use you in powerful, meaningful ways for His Kingdom.

2. Diligence

Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to turn the steering wheel of a car in motion than one that is standing still? Diligence will ignite you to get moving.

God expects us to serve Him wholeheartedly. Scripture is filled with exhortations to avoid laziness: “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord!” (Romans 12:11). Hebrews 6:12 says: “so that you may be not sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Sluggishness and slothfulness stem from selfishness.

But do you know what will give you credibility at your office with your co-workers and at school with your classmates? Your strong work ethic will. The Christian ought to do more than the average. God has called us to not to just do an okay job or to do the minimum that is required. No, we are to exceed with excellence.

3. Resilience

Proverbs 21:21: “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Pursue is a strong word that means to “chase down.” In spite of what the world says, we must pursue righteousness. In spite of what our flesh says, we must pursue godliness.

I want to have resilient faith that remains constant against all odds. I want to keep moving even it feels like I can’t go another step! Because people are dying, people are broken, and we have been called to help.

I love the words of an old hymn that speak to our responsibility in Christ:

“Rescue the perishing, care for the dying;
snatch them from pity and sin and the grave;
weep over the erring one, lift up the fallen,
tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.”

In the midst of this broken world God has given us the gift of life. What we do with that life is our gift back to God. Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). In the end, only what we’ve done for Jesus Christ will last.

May each of us send up offerings of true obedience, tough resilience, and tenacious diligence at our jobs, at our church, in our families, in our homes!

Dr. Jack Graham is Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and most dynamic churches in the country.