The Law of Diligence
Diligence is defined as “faithful or persistent application to one’s work or studies; painstaking effort.” The word “painstaking” is actually a combination of the words “pains” and “taking.” In other words, painstaking means “taking great pains.” It means refusing to give up or to let go. To take pains means to hold firmly or steadfastly to a purpose despite obstacles, warnings or setbacks. Indeed, diligence is a consistent, constant effort to accomplish whatever is undertaken. There is a tenacity that God is looking for in our search for Him and it requires the law of diligence.
Industrious application of one’s self to a goal is not only a spiritual principle, but it is a natural law. Proverbs 10:4 teaches, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Anyone who is successful at anything knows what it means to practice the law of diligence. Even those who successfully diet to lose weight practice diligence. They don’t eat a lowfat meal on Monday and eat fried chicken and chocolate cake for dessert on Tuesday. They don’t exercise everyday for one week and then take a break for the next two weeks. If diligence is guaranteed to work in the natural realm, imagine the effects of consistent, tireless application to one’s work or studies in the spiritual realm.
How To Make A Hole In One
While growing up, I had the opportunity to attend the best golf camps in the world. My father was an avid golfer and quite naturally he wanted his six sons to love the sport as much as he did. My younger brother and I were the only ones who continued in the sport after we were introduced to it, and every summer my father sent us to internationally acclaimed golf camps. As a matter of fact, I was trained by some of the professionals who are on the PGA tour today.
During one particular session, my coach looked at me and excitedly asked, “Son, how old are you?”
He was so impressed with my hitting posture and the accuracy of my angles that he was compelled to inquire about my age.
“Sir, I’m 15,” I responded with a pubescent crack in my voice. “With the talent for golf that you are displaying at the age of 15, I expect to be reading about you performing great feats on the PGA tour by the time you are 25,” he said.
Immediately I got excited. I could picture myself winning the biggest tournament in history with a well-aimed hole-in-one. I looked forward to the fame, the fortune and the sheer pleasure of playing the game I loved for the rest of my life. All those euphoric feelings consumed me for that moment, but they did not remain with me, for I am now past the age of 25, and I’m not on the PGA tour. For some reason I was just expecting the PGA tour to call and say, “OK Mr. Bronner, we’re ready for you now. Just drop everything you’re doing and come join the tour.” I never made it to the PGA Tour because I wasn’t consistent in the game of golf. Over the years, I developed other interests. I began to play basketball and football. I started dating. I lost my skill and talent in golf.
The professional who predicted that I would be on the tour by the time I turned 25 meant well, but he forgot to tell me I had to remain tenacious in my practice. Diligence is the key to success in any area of life. He did not read about me in the paper making incredible shots because I was not diligent in the game of golf. But even if he did not read about me in the paper, he may have read about me in UPSCALE magazine listed as one of the most influential ministers in the nation.
Don’t Help Your Friend
God is a rewarder only of those who diligently seek Him. Jesus taught the following parable about diligence in Luke 11: 5-8:
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
Notice in verse 8 the parable explains that the man will not rise because the man asking for help is his friend. This is somewhat ironic because you would expect the verse to read, “Because he is my friend I will rise and give him what he wants.” Likewise, God says that He will not answer you just because you are His child.
Before you get too upset, let’s look at verse 8. The word “yet” in that verse brings out the diligence of the man seeking bread for his guests. The verse reads “yet because of his importunity” but it could also read “yet because of his shameless persistence and diligence.” The man in need was shamelessly persistent. He was outside screaming, “Hey John, I know you’re in there!! I need some bread!! Hey John!!” Can’t you see all the lights coming on in the neighborhood because of this man’s diligence? Because of his shameless insistence and persistence, his friend got up and gave him as much as he needed. If he had knocked one time he would have gone home with no bread. He did not receive the bread just because that man was his friend; he received the bread because of his shameless insistence.
God says you are seeking Him one time and giving up and going home empty. You have to get to the point where you’re not ashamed anymore. You must insist that God answer you. Don’t give up. God will not answer you just because you are His child. He will answer you because of your shameless insistence, persistence and diligence. Of course, you cannot expect your diligence to be rewarded if you are not God’s child. So, first, you must be a child of God (believe that He is God) and you must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Jesus sums up this parable in verses 9 and 10 with, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” God tells you to ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking. He’s not always going to answer you the first time you ask. God only rewards the resolute seeker.
The One Time God Sleeps
Recall that in the parable in Luke 9: 5-8, the man whose help was being sought was in the bed asleep when his friend tried to arouse him. Paralleling this verse with Job 8:5 you will find, “If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.”
The word “betimes” means “diligently”. So, if you will seek God diligently, surely He will awake for you. Psalm 121:3 says that God never slumbers, so why does Job 8:6 say that God will awake for you? This verse is not to be taken literally. The word “awake” in the context of this verse means “stir himself up.” So God will STIR HIMSELF UP on your behalf if you seek Him diligently. He will move heaven and earth if that’s what it takes to solve your problems. Seek God diligently, and He will answer diligently.
The Unjust Judge
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches His disciples what it means not to faint, lose heart and give up. He says men ought always to pray and not faint. The parable he illustrates describes an unjust judge who neither feared God nor man. There was a widow who solicited him to avenge her of her adversary, but he would not honor her request.
However, since she continually and diligently and persistently pursued the judge, he finally decided to hear her case and grant her request. The woman wearied the judge. She waited for him at his car. She arrived at his office early so she could wait on him. She called him all day long. She sent him letters. She sent him messages. She pursued him. She would not give up. She did not lose heart. She did not faint. And the judge finally judged her case in her favor.
That’s what God wants you to do. He wants you to be persistent. God only rewards diligence. If diligence will change an evil judge, surely it will change God. The first few times you go to God, He’s just sitting there waiting, and when He finally moves He will put the force of heaven behind Him. God purposely holds back just to see if you will come after Him. Most of the time there’s a waiting period. Some people pray and read their Bibles for the first week, but a few weeks later, the story is entirely different. But, remember, only the seeker who is consistent and persistent gets the reward.
Take A Dip ... Take Seven Dips
God requires diligence of you before rewarding you, just as He required diligence from the Biblical characters that you learn about today. Naaman received an instruction to go dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River, and he would be healed of leprosy. God knew that if Naaman was told to dip seven times that would be a test of his tenacity.
After Naaman took the seventh dip, he was healed. What would have happened had he stopped after the first or second or third dip? NOTHING! Naaman could have very easily complained that the waters were too cold and that it was too consumed with mud, but his diligence did not see those obstacles and setbacks. He could only see the end result -- complete restoration and healing after obeying the Word of God.
The people of Jericho were instructed to march around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days and to march seven times around on the seventh day. What would have happened had Joshua told the people to stop marching on the third day? NOTHING! Stopping in the middle of an instruction from God is too soon to give up. God will always test your diligence. Give Him a chance to come through for you.
During a drought, Elijah told his servant to go down to the sea and look for the clouds. The servant came back to Elijah without seeing a cloud. Elijah sent him back and, again, the servant returned and told Elijah that he did not see any clouds. Elijah once again sent his servant to the sea. This continued for seven instances. On the seventh trip, the servant returned and told Elijah that he had seen a cloud rising from the sea, and it was the size of a man’s hand.
Barking At A Woman
Matthew 15:22-28 details the story of a Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed by a devil. She went to Jesus for help, but instead of speaking a word of healing over her daughter at that moment, He decided to test her diligence and insistence and persistence.
The first time she approached Jesus, He did not answer her at all. Then, she went to His disciples for help, and they cried for Jesus to send her away. Jesus responded by saying He was sent to help the Israelites, not the Gentiles. Even after this insult, she worshipped Him and said, “Lord, help me.”
At this point in the encounter, Jesus had ignored the woman. The disciples had asked to have her sent away, and Jesus had insulted her. After she worshipped Him, Jesus told her it was not proper to take the children’s bread -- healing -- and cast it to dogs. Jesus, the Son of God, called the woman who was humble enough to worship Him a dog!!! Despite being called a dog by the Son of God, she maintained her dignity and said, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fell from their master’s table.”
Jesus was testing this woman’s insistence and persistence. He wanted to see just how serious she was about getting her daughter healed. He ignored her. He insulted her. He called her a dog. But she kept coming. That’s exactly what Jesus wanted her to do. With each insult that He dealt that Canaanite woman, He was praying in His spirit that she would still seek Him. He wanted her to be persistent. He wanted her to continually weary and annoy Him until she received her answer. He wanted to teach this lesson in diligence to His disciples.
How many of you would have stayed there? How many of you would have given up after the very first time Jesus ignored, refused and insulted you? God does not want you to give up. He wants you to keep coming. Remain steadfast even in the face of refusal. Press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling and you will not miss your reward. If the woman had left, her daughter would have still been possessed by a devil. Remember, diligence hooks the seeker with the rewarder.
Summary --- The Diligent Seeker
1. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If you are seeking God, your search must be a diligent, persistent, insistent and tenacious one.
2. Diligence is “faithful or persistent application to one’s work or studies; painstaking effort.” Diligent application is not only a spiritual principle but a natural law.
3. In Luke 11, Jesus teaches that importunity (“shameless insistence and persistence”) will receive results from God.
4. If you are diligently seeking God, He will “stir Himself up” and move heaven and earth if that’s what it takes to solve your problems.
5. There are many Biblical characters who would not have received the rewards they were seeking had they not sought God diligently.