“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke
This has been a convicting quotation for a couple centuries, yet the nemesis of apathy has existed for all time. Joshua valiantly led the Israelites into the Promised Land. He soundly crushed the enemies and silenced the opposition. The remaining nations were fragmented and disoriented. After some time, the children of Israel gathered and Joshua asked them, “How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you” (Joshua 18:3)? Fast forward about fifteen hundred years, and the writer of Hebrews tells believers, “Give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:2). The words slack and slip convey the same problem.
Man tends to let things of value float on by because the price tag of struggle is too much. Thomas Eddison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” What is the cause for such a dangerous disposition?
First, we grow comfortable. The longer we tolerate sin and wretchedness around us, the duller our conscience becomes to it. What used to shock us and horrify us, now barely earns the rebuke of a glance. The psalmist lamented his dwelling when he mentions, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace” (Psalm 120:5-6). What he describes is the tension which exists between those fully aware of their identity in the Lord and the folly of the world. Those around him may be his neighbor, but they are miles apart in their life’s pursuit. How do you remedy such a plight? You must encounter the presence of the Lord. Isaiah was comfortable, but in the presence of the Lord he said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). The light of God’s righteousness illuminates the wretchedness of our situation and we are again aware of our living conditions.
Not only do we grow comfortable, but sadly many believers have been caudled. Worship, which is more than singing praises or attending church, but is a life actively lived for God’s glory—worship was something we have been lead to do so much so we cannot seem to lead ourselves in it. Evangelism is something we do when we are with someone who is a strong influence in our life. We fail to notice moral compromises unless someone is with us. So many believers never take the steps necessary to mature and direct others to worship the Lord. They rode the coattails of their parents or elders, but fail to make the faith their own.
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat…Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” (Hebrews 5:12; 6:1)
We are not given the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but we are told to fear in Hebrews 4:1. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us…you should seem to come short of it.” The Fear of Missing Out on the full experience of God’s promises should spur us forward.
How long are ye slack to own what God has given you?