“I hated shining shoes in Basic Training,” recalls Nebraska preacher John Telgren.
“There were other things I would rather be doing.” John said “instead of sitting on the floor with a brush and mounds of cotton balls stained with black Kiwi shoe polish. If our boots and dress shoes were not perfect we paid for it dearly.”
He relates a story where one of the guys in his unit discovered a product called “Shine Sponge” that was supposed to produce an effortless shine just by applying the product with a sponge. Almost everyone tried it and it produced “almost an unearthly shine” on their footwear.
However, when their Sargent appeared in the middle of the night to inspect their shoes and boots, they were all awakened by an angry Instructor. When the lights came on they saw their boots and shoes with no shine, only a dull ugly looking finish. Apparently, the oil soaked into the leather and had left them worse than before. Only the soldiers who hand-shined their shoes passed inspection.
This story is a lesson about life. Success in any endeavor is not achieved by cutting corners. The Bible says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Prov. 21:5). This is also true in spiritual matters as.
The apostle Paul exhorted the young evangelist Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly discerning the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).
The Greek word translated diligence means to exert one’s self. To make every effort. To be eager. To be earnest.
Various translations render the word with these English words. “Endeavoring’ (Eph. 4:3). “Earnest care (2Cor. 8:16). “Labor” (Heb. 4:16). “Earnestness” (Heb. 6:11). “Zeal” (Rom. 12:8).
Spiritual growth demands diligence. It takes effort. Requires persistence. And calls for commitment, constancy, and consecration. A Christian cannot “grow in grace and in knowledge” (2 Pet. 3:18) with a haphazard, careless, or casual approach.
The command to add “the Christians graces” listed by Peter is familiar to most of us. “Add to your faith virtue…knowledge… self-control…perseverance…godliness…brotherly kindness…love.” However, he begins this exhortation by saying, “giving all diligence” (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
Clinton Hamilton makes this observation from this text, “In responding to the extortions about the qualities that should be added to their lives, these Christians are to be zealous or earnest in actively striving after the development and promotion of these qualities in their spiritual growth. They are not to put matters of indifference alongside of the work that God does. Man must make his contribution in growing into spiritual maturation to be more like God in his characteristics and moral qualities.”
In other words, to be a stronger, better Christian you’ve got to work at it. Just showing up on Sunday morning won’t cut it. I recall old-time preachers saying, “Sitting inside a church building will no more make you a Christian, than sitting inside a hen house will make you a chicken.”
Growth doesn’t occur accidentally or automatically following baptism. Nor is it realized by virtue of your family’s faithfulness or spiritual fortitude. Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” That’s not only true physically, it’s even more applicable spiritually. I know of the grandchildren of faithful, dedicated gospel preachers who are today atheists.
Diligence means we must honestly examine our attitudes and actions to see if we’re truly following Christ (2 Cor. 13:5).
Diligence demands we pay careful attention to our faith so that we don’t drift away (Heb. 2:1).
Diligence calls for Shepherds in the church to first “take heed” to their own lives as well as carefully guard the flock they are leading (Ax. 20:28).
Diligence requires parents to be alert to the dangers facing their children. To instruct them in the Lord. To discipline them correctly. To provide for them boundaries. And not to exasperate them with harshness (Deut. 6:6-9; Prov. 13:24; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
Diligence is necessary for the continued peace, harmony, and unity of the local church to function as God expects (Eph. 4:1-3).
Diligence is needed to receive God’s approval (2 Tim.2:15).
Let’s renew in ‘22 our attentiveness to diligence.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman