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Diligence

October 7, 2009

I thought I had been diligently attempting to apply diligence to make my call and election sure, when a cerebral eclipse occluded any notion, if indeed I ever had one, of exactly what diligence is. Fortunately I have backup in the form of an ancillary brain, otherwise known as my wise husband. So I asked him what Peter was really talking about, or in other words, what is diligence, anyway?

Diligence, he said, is walking in the consciousness that we are always in the presence of the living God.

Sometimes a simple meaning has a complex application. As a music student I was diligent: I practiced my instruments and studied my music and received reviews of my progress and performance from teachers and peers. I had no clear concept at the time of being always in the presence of the living God. But Peter’s admonition is to the people of God who believe they have been called apart from the world, and are conscious of who has called them, and what He requires of them.

In his epistle to the Colossians, the theme of which is the headship of Christ over the church, Paul enjoins the brethren: “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24) I think this somewhat amplifies Peter’s meaning. If I walk conscious that I am in the presence of the living God, then everything I do reflects this consciousness (how could it not?), and I am focused on the Lord and rewarded by the Lord and I will work heartily because I will work with a fortified heart.

But many dangers, toils, and snares routinely deflect my consciousness, diffusing its focus in a morass of self-interest and petty problems. Chronic illness has not infused me with ebullient optimism. I do not do all that I do heartily as to the Lord. But I find more resilience when I think of being always in his sight; and I snap back to reality from agitating events more readily when I recall God’s abiding good will, than I do when I reflect on the events themselves.

Diligence is simple in principle and very hard in practice. When Charlie Brown’s chum Pig Pen heard the aphorism, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” he responded hopelessly, “For me, cleanliness is next to impossible!” Substitute diligence for cleanliness, and I’m with Pig Pen. But by grace, not always.

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2 Comments
  1. October 7, 2009 2:24 pm

    Lauren I was much struck by the way you phrased this on the housewives blog, and have been trying to cultivate this consciousness more recently. I find it difficult because as you say, something (for me, especially thoughts that wander in sinful or willful ways and have to be constantly snapped back) one is always being deflected; and it seems that trying to live in this consciousness makes one even more aware of one’s own sinfulness — so that it almost feels like losing, rather than gaining, ground. Yet I was also very encouraged to read recently a summary of sanctification as a process of ‘continual repentance’ — and in that light, one does ‘gain ground’ trying to live in this consciousness, because we are more often called back to repentance. And yes, to blessedness and joy in God’s favor. I love the way you phrased it in your penultimate paragraph. Thanks much for this post.

  2. October 7, 2009 2:38 pm

    Heidi, I was amazed that Laura’s post was tracking my thoughts so closely. Yes, I think self-consciousness nurtures sin specifically because it displaces our consciousness of God. We live either in the shadow of our sin or under the penumbra of God’s gracious protection.

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