Diligence, or steady perseverance in one’s effort, results in careful, energetic, and persistent work. Diligent people get the job done. They don’t quit until they have given it their all. The Bible uses the word diligence in several ways, and it is always in a positive sense.
Diligence is mentioned a couple of times in the book of Proverbs. A proverb is a short saying that expresses a general truth for practical living, and the truth about diligence is that it is good for us:
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4)
This proverb tells us that those who work diligently will most likely reap a good result, while those who refuse to work with diligence suffer the consequences. Another one:
“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4)
This proverb again contrasts the diligent with the lazy and shows that diligent people have planned ahead, saved, and worked to provide for their needs. In contrast, the lazy, or the non-diligent, never have enough because they don’t see a job through to the end. They quit or do shoddy work and reap the results of their lack of diligence.
We are told in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts with diligence because everything we do flows from the heart. If we are not diligent to guard against falsehood, evil thoughts, and lustful desires, our enemy Satan is standing by to take advantage. Diligence implies an intentional action of guarding our hearts, rather than a passive acceptance of everything that enters. Second Corinthians 10:5–6 gives an example of how to guard our hearts by “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” As a sentry is diligent in guarding a fortress, so must we be diligent in guarding our hearts and minds.
After outlining specific commands and instructions, Paul urged Timothy to “be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15). The “matters” Timothy was to be diligent in included identifying false teachers (verses 1–5), avoiding myths and fruitless discussions (verse 7), setting “an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (verse 12), and devoting himself “to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (verse 13). These were not suggestions to be dabbled with but commands to be diligently applied.
Being a follower of Christ is also to be pursued with diligence. The lackadaisical way that some professing believers approach a relationship with God is reflected nowhere in the Bible. Instead, Jesus made it clear that those who wished to be His disciples must be “all in” (Luke 9:57–62). Unless we diligently pursue righteousness and obedience, we will experience failure. The world is too appealing, temptation too abundant. There are too many excuses for turning away. That’s why Jesus emphasized that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:28–31). In other words, life’s ultimate goal is to diligently love the Lord. All actions flow from the posture of our hearts. When we make diligence the common ingredient in everything we do, and we choose to do godly things, we set a standard for ourselves that will propel us toward godliness and a life of excellence.