One of the saddest things to behold is a shipwrecked Christian: defeated, full of fear and worry, lurching from one crisis to another, overwhelmed by financial difficulties, missing out on the blessings of the Lord, not experiencing His peace, His presence, His promise, His joy. We are not meant to live that way!
1 Timothy 4:15-16
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. NIV
The Word of the Lord is clear enough: the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Righteousness in all things. Peace even in the midst of the storm. Joy that cannot be shaken or taken. It is about needs met and hopes fulfilled. It is about overcoming, not being overcome. It is about pressing on to take hold of all the fullness of Christ, not struggling to keep what we already have. It is about growing into the deep things of God, not forever learning the elementary truths of God’s Word over and over again.
Why then do so many Christians struggle and never experience the full promise of the Lord Jesus Christ?
If there is one word that answers this question, it is ‘diligence.’ They are not diligent about the things of God; they don’t persevere in the things of God. They study the Word, they listen to countless sermons and teachings week after week, they understand what needs to be done but somehow they never get down to doing it. They are not diligent about putting the Word into practice, living it, walking it out. They do not persevere in it. And so the Word that they receive does not profit them, does not make a real difference in their lives. It is like a seed that is planted but never grows, never flowers.
Most people never deliberately set out to make a mess of their life; they just don’t do enough to keep from making a mess of their life. How true that is. Every computer comes with certain “default” settings – a selection automatically used by a computer programme in the absence of a choice made by the user (Merriam-Webster dictionary). Can I tell you that the choice to follow the Lord diligently is not a default setting for most of us? If we leave things on automatic, if we don’t make the deliberate choice to do what is right before God, if we are not diligent about doing the Word, we end up doing all that is contrary to the Word of the Lord. It’s like that because the default setting of our human nature is contrary to the Word of the Lord and it takes a conscious decision, a conscientious effort to change it.
You know, I meet many Christians whose lives are in terrible shape – their family life is in shambles, they have crushing financial difficulties, they are oppressed by the devil, they are miserable. When I talk to them the reason becomes obvious: they are not living right, they are not walking in obedience to God; there is sin in their life. They desperately want God to help them but they are not willing to do what it takes for God to make a difference in their lives.
Friends, there is no other way to succeed in life except by diligently walking in obedience to the Lord. Don’t frustrate the plan and purpose of God in your life by refusing to be diligent about the things of God. Be diligent! Persevere! Take hold! Press on! God is faithful. You will reap as you have diligently sowed.