vs. Apathy
Fervently expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit

Key Verse

“Rejoice evermore. . . . Quench not the Spirit.”
I Thessalonians 5:16, 19

The operational definition of enthusiasm is “fervently expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit.” Our soul is that part of us by which we primarily relate to the physical world, and our spirit is that part of us by which we mainly relate to the Lord. The word enthusiasm comes from two Greek words: en, which means “in,” and theos, which means “God.” When you are “in God,” such as praying, obeying His voice, and reading and meditating on His Word, then you are able to experience genuine joy. “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11b). When your spirit is in close fellowship with God, your joy will be obvious to those around you. This expression with your soul is enthusiasm.

God’s Word gives many examples of enthusiasm. King David and the congregation greatly rejoiced when they gave willingly for the building of the Temple. (See I Chronicles 29:9.) Families joined in the celebration when the wall around Jerusalem was completed. (See Nehemiah 12:27, 40–43.) The Jews had “light, gladness, joy, and honor” because God had worked on their behalf to save them from Haman. (See Esther 8:11, 15–16.) Such excitement was the result of people knowing the Lord and seeing Him work.

When the life of Christ in us bursts forth like a refreshing fountain, we are enthusiastic. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9).
Having to “pump” up an artificial enthusiasm could be a sign that we need to evaluate our walk with God.

The opposite of enthusiasm is apathy. Apathy means that instead of being eager and interested, you are indifferent and unconcerned. Apathetic people ignore the needs of those around them. They do not want to participate in the family’s ministry to the nursing home. They roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders when a job is assigned to them. They are not moved by the missionaries’ reports at church. They are easily bored. If you find yourself feeling apathetic about things that matter to the Lord, ask Him to show you what has come between you and Him. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:10–12).

Evaluation Questions

  • Do I give everyone a warm, enthusiastic smile or only those who are my close friends?
  •  How do I seek to stay in fellowship with the Lord throughout the day?
  • Do I take time to pause and rejoice in God’s goodness to me?
  • Am I eager to do my tasks wholeheartedly?
  • What am I motivating others to do by my attitudes, decisions, and actions?
  • Am I discouraged by obstacles, or do I look to Christ for help to overcome them?
  • Do I see the importance of the work God has given to me to do?
  • Am I suppressing the Holy Spirit’s promptings or yielding to His guidance?
  • Have I felt emotional drain from trying to be enthusi­astic by my own effort rather than by God’s Spirit?

More About Enthusiasm

“Every man is at his best when he adds enthusiasm to . . . his undertakings.”
John Wanamaker
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Enthusiasm with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Be filled with the Spirit.

“Quench not the Spirit.” I Thessalonians 5:19

Rejoice in Him.

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” Psalm 5:11

Turn apathy into caring concern.

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” James 2:15–16

Motivate others.

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13

Treat every job as important.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23–24

Be an energy giver to others.

“But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” Exodus 17:12

Recognize that my demeanor affects others.

“Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid.” Nehemiah 2:2

Put my whole heart into what I do.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Overcome discouragement.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” Psalm 42:5

Be undeterred by obstacles.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4

Enthusiasm in Scripture

Encouraged on the Road to Emmaus

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, . . . Saying, The Lord is risen indeed. . . .”
Luke 24:32–34
The events of the past three days had been confusing and disheartening. Surely Jesus was truly the Messiah, but He had just been crucified in Jerusalem during the Passover! Had the prophecies about Messiah in the Holy Scriptures been misunderstood? People were relying on Jesus to redeem Israel, but now He had been killed and buried in a garden tomb. All hope was gone. Then, three days following the crucifixion, some women had visited the tomb. Angels appeared to them, saying that Jesus was alive! Others ran to the garden and verified that the sepulcher was indeed empty! Later the same day that the empty tomb was discovered, two travelers began their seven-mile walk from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. Their hearts were heavy as they discussed the recent happenings. Quietly, a stranger approached and fell into step with them. He asked why they were sad and what had happened. Surprised that He seemed unaware, they began to rehearse the events that had occurred in Jerusalem. After listening to the two downcast travelers, what would the Stranger share with them? How long would they walk together? What would happen when they arrived in Emmaus? What overcame the discouragement of the two travelers and filled them with enthusiasm?

Revealed in Nature

Humpback Whale

The humpback whale shows its enthusiasm for life by energetically leaping out of the water, a feat in which up to 90% of its body can clear the surface. This amazing animal sings tunes that often last 20 minutes and reverberate for hundreds of miles through the ocean waters.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Learning enthusiasm helps children understand that God gives us joy as we fellowship with Him, and He enables us to express that joy to those around us.

View the Enthusiasm booklet sample:

Get the complete Enthusiasm booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Enthusiasm

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
Jim Elliot