Diligence means to strenuously and lavishly give yourself to something. Strenuous is a demanding and sweat-producing word. It comes from the athletic world of intense concentration on the goal of becoming a champion. Diligence is the picture of the sprinter who is coming around the bend toward the finish tape, exerting every muscle in his body, even when it seems like he has nothing left to give. Lavishly means to give more than you gave last time—outdo yourself. Go the extra mile.
How do we apply that to our lives as Christians? It’s almost so foreign from our actual practice that it’s hard to make the application. What would happen if you took all of the precious promises which God has given you so that you can have everything you need for life and godliness, and you took all of those precious promises and with diligence, you mine them?
What is diligence? Strenuous, lavish activity. Nothing is too hard. You learn and study and live the principles of the Word of God with every energy you have, not holding back. That’s what diligence means, both in the study of the Word of God and in life.
I need to ask this question of myself, too: Is my walk with God all about emotions and feelings? Or is it driven by faith and the Word? When I have one of those days when I don’t feel the victory of my faith, do I continue to serve in obedience? Or do I let my feelings hurt my faith?
Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:5-8: “…for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He is saying to us that by diligence, we need to take the things that God has given to us and use them and grow them in our own lives. He is talking about laying a foundation of faith, based upon what we know from the Word of God. He is telling us that there are times when God smiles on our response—when the world is treating us poorly, when our spirits are low, yet we pray anyway; we serve anyway; we open the Bible anyway and say, “I’m not my best today God, but I am still yours, and I’m going to serve you with diligence with all of my heart.” When you do that and you give God that kind of faith and diligence, His promises will be there for you. Someone has said, “Thank God that His promises don’t fluctuate with our whims!” Isn’t that true? We can cling to those promises and find a powerful equilibrium for our life.
First, as we focus on a diligent Christian life, we shed old and unhelpful habits and develop new and profitable habits. You will find the Spirit of God filling the voids in your life and offering something far more satisfying than what your previous pursuits had to offer.
Secondly, you will have vitality in your Christian life. You will learn to embrace change and not fear it; wake up energized and ready to seize the day, and so many other signs of a lively heart. If you study the mature saints that you know you will see that vitality, even deep into their golden years is evident.
Thirdly, you will have reality in your Christian life. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:8 that we will have true reality in our lives when we are diligent in our spiritual lives. We will know His truth deeply, and it will bear real fruit all around us. We will be involved in the real world, connecting the truth of the Gospel to the needs of the people that we see. We will learn to embrace the problems of the world, and bring the presence of Jesus right into the center of them.
You can never lose your salvation, but you can lose the joy of it, you can lose the sense of God’s presence in your life. 2 Peter 1:9 says he who lacks the fruit of diligence “…has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”
Can you imagine experiencing the miracle of salvation, the cleansing of the blood of Christ, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the joy of Christian fellowship, only to forget that that ever happened?
We can get so far away from God as a Christian, so far away from the instruction of His Word, so lacking in diligence and in strenuous and lavish pursuit of the things of God, that you can wake up one day and hardly find any evidence in your own life.
We have everything we need to be difference-makers in this world. God has given it to us in between the covers of the Bible. It’s up to us to take what we have been given and give it back to God in the life of diligence that will bring honor to His name and strength to our lives.