In order to understand what it means to be diligent as a Christian, we must understand what the word means and how it is used in the Bible. Diligence is putting forth every effort to make the right thing happen now; diligence is doing our duty to the best of our ability, striving to bring about the best result, in the best way, in the fastest way possible. Christianity is not a religion about “good enough”; Christianity is a religion about giving the best to God. It is a relationship built on our willingness to follow God’s will in all things, in all ways, with all diligence and faithfulness.
Diligence in the Old Testament
In Exodus 15.26, God tells Israel that diligence is required on their part. They must make every effort to listen to the voice of God. This goes beyond merely hearing God’s voice to taking what is said into their hearts, pondering it, meditating on it, and desiring to fulfill it. They must learn to make the will of God their will in all things. They must be diligent to do what is right not in their own eyes but in the eyes of God. This is something that will require a great amount of work and effort on their part, and it is absolutely necessary for them to be pleasing to God.
Deuteronomy 4.9 warns Israel to keep their souls diligently or they would forget the things that God did for them. Israel was about to go into the Land of Promise, to drive out the nations there and receive all the good things God has promised them. However, if they were not careful they would forget God. They would see the practices of the other nations and fall away chasing after them. They would begin to trust in their own strength, counsel, and wisdom, forgetting that God was the one who led them and fought for them. They had to constantly keep at the forefront of their minds that God is the source of all the good they were receiving. If they fell away and forgot, then they would stop receiving the blessings that come with obedience.
God against calls upon Israel to have diligence in teaching their children in Deuteronomy 6.7. Parents are the ones charged with teaching their children, not the government, the church, or any other organization in the world. Each father in Israel was charged with the duty of making sure his children were taught the ways of the Lord accurately. In order to do this, he had to make use of every available resource, every opportunity, and every teaching moment. There was no time when the father could fall down on his responsibility, and there was no one else for him to hand over the task. It was his job (with the help of his wife, of course), and God expected him to do it well all the time.
Diligence in the New Testament
The same theme and idea about diligence is also present in the New Testament; the basic idea is that we need to do what pleases God in the best way, right away. Sometimes the diligence is about personal things and other times it is about more corporate concepts.
For example, in Ephesians 4.3 we are told to “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit” which God created when he brought us all into the church. What God has joined together, no man should separate. Since it is the will of God that his people be united together, our inclination needs to be toward unity rather than division. Nowhere in the New Testament is there a place which talks positively about division among the people of God; even though it may be necessary sometimes, it’s never a good thing. Christ died to bring us together, so we need to do everything we possibly can to make sure that unity is maintained.
When Timothy is told to “do his best” in 2 Timothy 2.15, he is actually told to show diligence in his efforts of preaching the gospel. He needs to put in the work to know the Scriptures, to learn how to teach better, to gain greater spiritual insight and understanding, and if he refuses to show this diligence, then he will not be a good workman for the Lord.
In Hebrews 4.11, the apostle Paul warns the Hebrew Christians (and us, too!) that we have to show diligence in our efforts to enter God’s rest. In other words, Christianity is not a walk in the park. We will be attacked physically, financially, and spiritually (perhaps in even more ways!) by our adversary, the devil, and if we aren’t careful to walk in all the ways that God desires, we’ll fall into disobedience like the Israelites did in the wilderness.
Summary of Diligence
Whether in the Old or New Testament, diligence always carries with is a sense of urgency in doing what is best. We need to put forward effort not just to find what God’s word says, but also the best ways of implementing God’s word. We need to seek spiritual wisdom and guidance from God so that we can do his will in the best way possible. We also need to pray and ask for courage so that we have the willingness to do the Lord’s will.
Our Father in heaven, please help us as we strive diligently to find your way for our lives. Helps to be spiritually wise in discerning truth from error, and finding the best way to put your word into practice. Please help us to learn from you, to grow spiritually, and to strive to serve you all that we do. Amen.