By Don R. Hastings
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wept in great anguish aver the miseries that had befallen the Jews in the kingdom of Judah. Because of their sins, God had allowed the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, to defeat them. Many were slain and others were taken captive to dwell in Babylon. The Babylonians marched three times against Judah before the temple and the kingdom were completely destroyed. It seems to have been during this time that Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. After mentioning the great distress of the Jews, and the pitiful condition of Jerusalem, Jeremiah asked, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” (Lam. 1:12). He was asking, “Can you be so indifferent that you feel no sorrow when you look upon the deplorable condition of the people and Jerusalem?” As for himself, he was heart-broken and wept with grief that was inconsolable (Lam. 1:12). He was like His Savior, who many years later wept over the indifference of the Jews (Lk. 19:41-44).
“Indifference” is defined as, “lack of concern or interest” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). It is apathy, disinterest, listlessness, inactivity. A person who is indifferent just does not care because he is neither for nor against. He is lacking in feeling or emotion.
There is still a great deal of indifference both in the world and in the church. It is a sinful attitude which gives birth to many other sins. Nothing hinders the cause of the Lord more than the soul-chilling indifference seen in so many places. Are you indifferent in the Lord’s service? Examine yourself. In the first part of this series, we will study the causes of indifference. In the article to follow, we shall be concerned with the fruits of indifference and the remedy for it.
Indifference Is Caused By: Ignorance Of Truth (John 17:17)
Many simply do not know what God expects of them because they have not studied His Word (Eph. 5:17). They are ignorant because they do not possess a love for the Truth (2 Thess. 2:10-12; Mt. 5:6).
A Failure To Be Genuinely Converted
Many show by their actions that they never really repented for they are still engaging in the same sinful activities that they practiced before becoming Christians (Acts 3:19). These still have a love for the world which is forbidden (1 Jn. 2:15). They need to realize that they have been translated “out of the power of darkness” and act accordingly (Col. 1:13). Those who have put on their Lord in baptism are not to be of this world (Jn. 15:19; 17:14,16). However, some are still conformed to this world; thus, they show their lack of genuine conversion (Rom. 12:1,2).
Some, who were once members of a false religion, still hold to some of the false concepts they were taught. For example, some who have been baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins will tell you they think there are saved people in denominations. I had one member to defend his irregular attendance on the grounds that he had been irregular in attendance while a member of the Catholic Church. Sadly, I have found that many feel limited service on their part is acceptable with God.
Lack Of Love For God
Indifference can be caused by a lack of love for God, which results in a lack of knowledge and obedience (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 2:3). Those who do not love God with their whole heart are either ignorant of what God has done for them, or else they are ungrateful (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 1:21).
Fear Of What Others Might Say Or Do
True, the world does frown on those who are zealously doing the Lord’s work. We must not let those in the world discourage us by their contemptuous remarks (Mt. 10:27, 28; Lk. 6:22; 1 Pet. 3:14). Since they do not know Christ, it is not surprising they fail to understand His followers. Let us remember that the fearful will be lost (Rev. 21:8).
The Desire To Seek The Way Of Ease (Amos 6:1)
The “unprofitable servant” was cast out because he was fearful and lazy (Mt. 25:24-30). The Way that leads to eternal life is “narrow” and difficult. It takes effort to walk in it (Mt. 7:13,14; Lk. 13:24). Those who want to drift along will find themselves in the broad way that “leadeth to destruction.” The Lord never sought the way of ease or the path of least resistance.
The Feeling Of Self-Satisfaction
It was this feeling that caused the church at Laodicea to be “lukewarm” (Rev. 3:16,17). The rich farmer was satisfied, but God called him a fool (Lk. 12:20). The self-righteous Pharisee was satisfied, but he was not righteous before God (Lk. 18:9-14). We should not be satisfied until: (1) we have become “holy in all manner of living;” (2) all in the church are strong in the faith; (3) and, all in the world have heard and obeyed the Gospel.
Indifference On The Part Of Others
I know of nothing that will kill zeal and enthusiasm faster than for some brethren to show disinterest in the work by saying that the work under consideration is not worth the effort. Let us spread zeal, not indifference!
In conclusion, you can not be indifferent and zealous at the same time (Tit. 2:14). You can not abound in the work of the Lord and be indifferent in His service (1 Cor. 15:58). Many want the “crown of life,” but are not willing to run the race to obtain it (Heb. 12:1). Many want the crown of victory, but are not willing to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). Are we “slothful” or “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11)?
The difference between those who stand upon the right hand of the Lord, and those who stand upon His left hand, is that those on the right hand “did” and those on the left hand “did not” (Mt. 25). It is not enough to abstain from those things forbidden, but we must, also, do that which is required! Those on the left hand were not charged with doing things that were forbidden, but with not doing the things that were required. Are you busy doing God’s Will (Mt. 7:21)?
Truth Magazine XIX: 55, pp. 872-873
December 4, 1975