Want to dig deeper into what Scripture has to say about the big topic of this month’s ec: fighting apathy? Go no further. Below, you’ll find a short discussion of a passage of Scripture that deals with this topic, along with a guided study of the passage. At the end, you’ll find some questions that may help you to lead or facilitate a small group study on this passage.
“Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every action must be done with love.” —1 Corinthians 16:13-14
The prophet Jeremiah described his desire to proclaim God’s word as a fire burning in his heart (Jer. 20:9). Sometimes we find ourselves burning hot for God, filled with a passion that cannot be contained.
Other times, we are stuck in the mud of apathy. Perhaps right now there is an area of your life in which the flame has become a weak flicker. In a recent season of my life, when I was struggling to maintain my passion for God, the Spirit led me to 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. I would like to share with you how God spoke passion back into my life.
Be Alert (v. 13)
God reminded me to wake up to the realities of life. Sometimes we fall into apathy because we are “asleep at the wheel.” I needed to be more observant about the influences and influencers in my life. I needed to be spiritually aware of ungodly attitudes in my life. I needed to pay attention to behaviors that were out of character for a follower of Christ.
Stand firm in the faith (v. 13)
When I’m wide awake in Christ, I can recognize attacks on my faith. During my apathy, God taught me that I need my feet planted firmly in the Word. God’s Word is the soil upon which I take my stand against the attacks of Satan, who wants us to be disabled by apathy. Remember Jeremiah’s fire metaphor? A fire must be tended, stoked, and fed. A steady diet of God’s Word fuels our spiritual fires.
Act like a man (V. 13)
Let me assure you, this advice pertains to both men and women. Paul was writing to a church, so he must have had the whole congregation in mind. He wasn’t talking about gender; he was talking about maturity. Earlier in this letter, Paul reminded his readers that they were to put away childish ideas and actions (1 Cor. 13:11). Put more simply, God wants us to grow up. When I’m falling in danger of apathy, I need to take responsibility for myself. I need to grow up and take action.
Be strong (v. 13)
When I read this, the Lord reminded me of the many Scriptures that teach me about being strong in the Lord. Using a concordance, I searched the Bible for these verses and prayed them to the Lord, seeking strength to remain strong in Him. This gave me great encouragement and refueled my passion for God. You might take some time right now to make your own search in God’s Word to teach you how to be strong in the Lord.
Your every action must be done in love (v. 14)
God reminded me that everything He does is an expression of His love. I reflected on my actions and realized that many of my actions were done out of obligation rather than love. Even godly actions had become drudgery. I needed a new infusion of God’s love in my life. God taught me that committing all of my actions as an expression of love for God and others will prevent apathy from sneaking into my life.
Questions for personal study and/or small group discussion:
- What is happening in your life that God could use as a wake-up call?
- What does it mean to stand firm in the faith?
- What are some childish ways that you need to lay aside?
- What are some steps of maturity you need to take?
- What tends to sap your spiritual strength? Explain.
- What are some specific ways you can express your love for God? Explain.
Making it count
It’s amazing how exercise can give me renewed energy. When I’m feeling tired, if I discipline myself to go for a walk or exercise, I feel strong and full of life. The same is true of your spiritual life. If you’re feeling spiritually lifeless, you need spiritual exercise. Perform an act of service. Share the gospel. Spend some time in God’s Word. God will be faithful to transform your apathy into the fire of passion for Him.