SIMPLE TRUTH: A needed word for all seasons

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

By Charles Christmas

It will never be out of date. It is for all seasons of the year. It is for all seasons of a person’s life. It is to be lived by the older and taught to the younger, by word and example. It will never become outdated. It is the word “diligent.” A word with the very opposite meaning is “lazy.” Being diligent means doing your very best without giving up, quitting or allowing yourself to be sidetracked.

There is much truth in the Bible about faith, the works of the Holy Spirit and God’s providence and sovereignty; but none of these conflicts with the necessity of diligence. On the one hand, we may say with truth, “God will provide,” but on the other hand, the Bible says that the sluggard without diligence will come to poverty. Or a person may say, “Well, I’m just going to trust God. That may be well and good, but the Bible says that faith without works is dead.

Let me be very clear: simply being a diligent person has never made anyone into a child of God or made the person saved or accepted by the Lord. But being diligent about knowing for sure what God’s one and only way to be saved is, and being diligent about making sure you have committed yourself to him who is the Way, has done so. That kind of diligence will result in assurance before God. But the emphasis on being diligent in this article relates to “being a Christian” rather than “becoming a Christian.”

The Apostle Peter emphasized the necessity of diligence for three purposes: first, for spiritual growth; second, for the assurance of being saved; and third, to be prepared for the return of Christ. “Give all diligence to add to your saving faith goodness and knowledge and self-control and perseverance and godliness and brotherly kindness and love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7) You will not grow in the Lord apart from diligence. “Therefore my brothers, give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11) These two verses underscore that your assurance and certainty can be undergirded by your diligence in your responsibility of growing in Christ. “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day. We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you look forward to this, give all diligence that you may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Peter 3:10-14) Is it enough personal preparation for death or the return of Christ simply to know that somewhere in your past you have had the beginning experience of what you call “being saved?” The answer is no! The Apostle Peter tells us that we are to go forward from that initial beginning of “saving” faith and be diligent about growing in Christ and becoming like Christ. He is so obsessed with this simple truth until he writes in the very last verse of 2 Peter, “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, we are to diligently grow to know more about him and to be more like him.

I must continue in my Simple Truth column next week thinking about this “needed word for all seasons.” I am in great need of complying with the simple truth we will explore. And you may find out that you have such a need also.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.