Growing up in my house there were a number of words added to the curse word list we were not allowed to say. We were not allowed to say “shut up,” “fart,” or things which may be on the edge of inappropriate but most of my friends growing up would not have considered that bad. I remember getting made fun of for it a lot, but there was always one word I was never allowed to say that would not lead to teasing, but would instead just lead to confusion. Growing up I was banned from saying the word “whatever.” To my mom, saying “whatever” communicated you did not care and to her, that was never okay. If I answered with whatever, be it to “what do you want for dinner” or to an apology, it was never okay for me to communicate that I did not care. To not care meant indifference and apathy, and my mom wanted me to understand that we as a family were not going to be indifferent to anything. My mom always warned me about the dangers of not caring and becoming “lukewarm.”
Constantly I am reminded about God’s rebuke to the church of Laodicea. We see what He says in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
I am sure of one thing, the last thing I want is to be spit out of the mouth of God. Yet I know, for my wife and I, apathy, specifically in me, has been one of the single leading causes for strife between us. I may not say the word “whatever” but my actions can just as easily communicate that is how I feel. Be it Bible reading as a family, to doing the dishes, apathy can really drive a wedge between the members of your family. The trouble is diagnosing apathy, because of it being an action that is done and seen by others, it is much easier to mask and excuse. We tell ourselves, “I just had a hard day of work, I will hear about my spouse’s day tomorrow” or “My kids have wiped me out, and honestly I would love to just eat in front of the TV rather than pray together and talk over a meal.” Apathy can easily creep its way in and then become the norm.
We have to fight our apathy, seeking to be fervent followers of Christ. Romans 12:11 has always shifted me into gear when apathy begins to creep into my life, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
We are called to be a fervent people. That means being fervent for our families, fervent in serving God, fervent in loving those around us, and fervent for our relationship with the Lord. When we let apathy creep in it is only a matter of time until something breaks in our lives. However, when we make ourselves care, and push through even when it is difficult, we combat that apathy.