Cemetery Roots

The Roots of Apathy

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all—the apathy of human beings. –Helen Keller, political activist and author


One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!”

Gideon replied, “With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, ‘Didn’t God deliver us from Egypt?’ The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian.”

But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?”

Gideon said to him, “Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.”

God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.” Judges 6:11-16 (Message)


How the angel’s greeting must have befuddled Gideon! This “mighty man of valor” was a nobody in his family, the members of his clan were insignificant in his tribe, his tribe wasn’t anything to brag about, and Israel was being humiliated and oppressed under the thumb of the Midianites. If Gideon had felt that he was a mighty man of valor, would he have been beating out his wheat while hiding in the winepress?

Gideon’s Real Problem

Gideon was absolutely correct in his overall appraisal of the situation—he was by no means a person worthy of recognition, and his nation was in dire straits. Gideon, however, had a totally wrong interpretation of his life and circumstances. The problem, in so many ways, was that Gideon did not see himself in the same light that God saw him. There is perhaps no issue as important to daily living as our perspective of God’s perspective of us.

How we believe God views us has a massive impact on not only our attitudes, but also the things we do and don’t do. If, for some reason, we mistakenly consider God the Father to be a harsh drill sergeant just waiting to smack us when we mess up, we intuitively keep our distance.

If we feel that others are more loved than we are, envy will sink its poisonous roots in our hearts.

If we don’t believe that God’s favor shines upon us to meet our every need, we will always be hesitant to give generously to help others.

If we fail to grasp our status as the highly honored children of the King, an extended wilderness season will leave us feeling as though God has dragged us out into a desolate place and left us there to die.

The Christian faith will never work properly until we learn to see ourselves through heaven’s eyes.

Apathy in the Church

One of the great criticisms expressed toward the people in the Western church is that so many of us are apathetic—that we care little about the things of God and the moral decay of our world. Assuming that these judgments are accurate, what, we must ask, is the reason for such apathy?

To be sure, there are professing Christians who are mostly self-absorbed and care little about others. This group, however, does not begin to constitute the sum total of all who appear to be apathetic. Could it be that a large number of us are convinced that who we are and what we do matters little?

All too often, apathy finds its roots in feelings of powerlessness.

Confidence to Make a Difference

Was Gideon apathetic? From a distance, it may have appeared as though he cared little for anyone apart from himself. Still, I think that Gideon’s problems had more to do with a lack of confidence than with emotional indifference. Because he failed to see himself through the eyes of heaven, Gideon had no comprehension of the amazing things God could do—and would do—through his seemingly insignificant life.

Is there something within your heart that yearns to make a profound impact in this world? Greatness isn’t about having phenomenal abilities to rise above the crowd. At the heart of true greatness beats a heart that cares about others. But empathy alone is never enough; we must also see ourselves through the eyes of the Holy Spirit who empowers us.

What is the common denominator between all of the people who have powerfully touched our world? They believed that they could!



This post is drawn from Chapter Forty-One of Bob’s devotional: Champions in the Wilderness—Fifty-Two Devotions to Guide and Strengthen Emerging Overcomers