The word diligence is a neutral word since it means persistent and hard-working effort in doing something. That something could be anything. It is very possible to diligently do either good or evil. With that explanation out of the way, I can dare to say that everybody is diligent. That is because everybody in the world has at least one thing they do very well which can be wrong or right, and when they do that thing persistently and with effort, it is done in diligence.
Every high-flyer or champion in any work of life is known for something they greatly excelled in. They stand out like beacons because they worked persistently and with hard-working effort towards the achievement of their trophy or recognition: they were diligent. Every slacker or low-life on earth also worked diligently (in a negative sense) to ensure that they gained a legacy for their shiftlessness. They too can be said to have been diligent (again, in a negative sense). You might agree with me at this point that there is a right and wrong kind of diligence.
Had I but served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1475 – 1530)
English statesman and clergyman, in his remark to Sir William Kingston just before his death.
We all will make similar remarks if we do not refrain early from a lopsided kind of diligence that rewards us imminently with these remorseful words.
It’s all about balance
The right kind of diligence is balanced. It is a ballast and a buoy. It stabilizes you in the murky waters of life’s adventures and navigates you away from the ragged-edge rocks that could shatter your lofty dreams a-sail. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey definitely had his dreams shattered as is evident in his complaint to his colleague, Sir William Kingston.
In House of Kings and Priests Church, the vision with which we run is anchored wholesomely on this balance. We seek to avert the imbalance that is evident in the statements of people, of whom Cardinal Wolsey in this instance represents. People get caught up very easily in pursuing life’s adventures and conquering goals and dreams that they forget that one day they could lament and regret it all, counting it all as vanity. The real thing that gives lasting and rewarding gratification to the spirit of a man is in the service he renders to God. The achievements of life’s adventures only gratify his1 soul and flesh, but man is not soul and flesh: man is a spirit, having a soul and living in a flesh. The core or spirit of man can never be satisfied no matter what accomplishments he1 spends his entire life pursuing.
The converse is also the case. It also happens that people devote or set themselves apart to the worship of God apparently or sincerely, but to the detriment of the society. What I mean by that is that God has put in every human being the ability to do something very well, something that will enrich the lives of other people, but some people claiming to keep themselves “holy” or “undefiled“, hide their talents like that ungrateful servant in the bible who was given one talent to do business with. Yet, the voices of these category of people are the loudest when it comes to criticizing the society for its vices or lamenting over how the government is run or how certain other systems or structures in the society are failing. However, the solution to those problems they complain about are within their very own souls but they claim to be doing a more important work, just like that aforementioned servant who thought he was doing his master a favour by hiding his talent.
Best of both worlds
Can you be diligent towards serving God wholeheartedly and towards serving the society and still live a wholesome and fulfilled life? Without hesitation, the answer is a resounding YES!
When God blessed Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 and said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:“, this is exactly what He was talking about. The structures required to attain the fruitfulness, multiplication and replenishment of mankind are such things as adequate health care, agriculture productivity, proper governance, law and order etc. These must be provided for man to accomplish God’s command. Likewise, the structures required for man to subdue (control) the earth, such as, science and technology, must be made available by man to also fulfill that command. How then can anyone who truly claims to be acquainted with the knowledge of the things of God advocate that man must utterly shun secular involvement in society in order to truly serve God? It totally beats me. I mean, if you cannot serve humanity, which is visible to your eyes and tangible to your limbs, how harder can you imagine it would be to serve the unseen God? This is critically important!
To further buttress this point, our Lord Jesus made it clear that he who wants to be the greatest of all must first be the servant of all, for even Himself did not come to be served, but to serve humanity (Mark 10:43-45). Of course, we do know that His service to humanity was simultaneously a service to God.
God’s intention is for us to maximize our abilities, not to restrain them.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
When most people hear of serving God, they immediately think it means to take a vow of poverty, or to be clad in frocked cassocks. Serving God doesn’t mean you must become a priest or a pastor. God is our Father in heaven. Ask yourself, “How would you serve your father on earth”? Be simply doing what he asks you to do for him, right? In the same manner, serving God means to do what He commands. If you have to wear a robe to serve Him, that’s fine, but you are not serving God just because you’re wearing a robe or because you’re carrying a bible and shouting “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!” God says, “If you love me, keep my commandments!” Serving God is an act of service towards God borne totally out of a spirit of love for Him and His Word not an act of daily legalistic ritual in partial fulfillment of the requirements of being acceptable to God.
Serving an invisible God
God is an invisible God. He is a spirit being. How we treat our fellow human beings whom we can see is a type of how we would treat the God whom we cannot see. Since He is unseen, “he that cometh to Him must believe that He exists“. That belief is rooted in faith. So without faith, you can’t serve or please God. You don’t necessarily need that kind of faith to serve humanity because humanity exists to the physical eye: you see it every day in your family, friends, neighbours, office colleagues, on the news, on billboards, and in the vast population of earth called mankind. Humanity is tangible to you, and you are a part of it. You don’t need any special faith you see the existence of what is already visible and tangible to you. Also you would not expect a reward from humanity like you would expect a reward from God. Having such false expectations can lead to disappointments as we saw in Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s comment about the king giving him over in his grey hairs. Humanity can forget about you even before you are dead! God however, “will not forget your work and labour of love, which you have shown towards His name, in that you have ministered to the saints [a part of humanity], and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10)
Service to God is not compartmentalized
The Word of God says “Do all things as unto the Lord“. Clearly, the expectation is that everything we are involved in must be done as service unto God. Not just things we do in our local church or things in which an opening prayer must be said before commencing. God is everywhere and God is in everything. It is written, “The earth is the Lord’s and its fullness thereof.” (Psalm 24:1) and “Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phillippians 4:5)
You must refrain from the ignorant statements of people who say things like, “When we come to the church, we do it the church way, but when it’s time for business, we do ‘business’.” By business they mean the practices of people who are out to make money at all costs, like using dishonest weights, lying about product quality or cost price, not paying staff, cutting corners to make profit and every other perverted practice contrary to God’s Word which they believe are the things that bring in the money. They forget that “bread gotten by deceit is sweet but afterwards it fills the mouth with gravel“. (Proverbs 20:17)
You don’t lie and cheat with the same mouth you praise and bless God. That reduces you to worse than an unrepentant sinner, for you have known the truth but you rebel against it. Service to God is not an eye-service. It’s not something we do when we think He is looking or when brethren are looking. It’s a lifestyle that permeates all aspects of one’s life holistically.
“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Proverbs 22:29
You see from the above verse that God attests to the fact that diligent people are high-flyers in their life’s endeavours. Anyone who is diligent in his business, which includes all adventures of one’s life such as academics, professional, entrepreneurial, career, political, societal, apprenticeship, leadership, followership and yes housekeeping!, will be outstanding in whatsoever they do to the end that they will interact will great people. Serving humanity can never be detrimental to the fulfillment of one’s destiny except when it is construed as the only form of service there exists. I reiterate emphatically that serving humanity diligently will pave for you the opportunity to stand before the high and mighty in any society, if that is what you are looking for.
I’m not oblivious of schools of thought who throw in Matthew 6:24 and protest that all what I have said so far is hogwash. My response would sound like a cliché but yes, someone hasn’t been reading their bible well—if at all.
In Matthew 6:24 (NIV), the Word says:
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
The King James Version Bible (KJV) renders the last sentence as, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Is Society Mammon?
Serving mammon is completely disconnected from serving humanity. They are two different things. Mammon is the service of self. Mammon is the spirit of non-reliance on God. We know this because the very next verse says:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25 NIV
It’s very clear. Don’t let anyone deceive you. In case you are wondering why I have the word “therefore” in bold emphasis, here’s why:
According to the Encarta Dictionary:
“Therefore and thus are both fairly formal words that introduce a statement that is a consequence of the previous statement. They should not be used as empty connectors when what follows them does not derive from what precedes them. For example: Your grade on the test was 20 percent; therefore, you have failed.“
In that following verse, the statement following therefore is directly connected to the statement preceding it. What statement follows therefore? “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
What statement proceeds therefore? “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Indubitably, mammon is nothing but the love of money. Money is the only thing if pursued and gotten outside of God that is able to satisfy the worry for what to eat, what to drink and what to wear. A person in love with money cannot love a fellow human, much more, God!
In all works of life, people are serving God and humanity with all diligence. It’s not rocket science or wishful thinking. If you’re still wondering if it is scriptural, let me remind you that Daniel did it. Daniel while exiled in Babylon (a country not his own) was so diligent in his duties that he rose to become one of the top three administrations in the nation who reported directly to King Darius. He loved God and served Him, keeping his commandments. God approved of him and protected him. When a conspiracy was hatched to feed Daniel to the lions, God destroyed the conspirators by having them fed to the lions instead of Daniel.
Jesus commands it
When a Jew confronted Jesus with a question regarding the most important commandment, Jesus quoted Moses from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 saying:
“The most important one…is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 NIV
This is perfect. Let me condense those words of our Lord in just five words that flawlessly drive home the points I’ve made in this piece.
What you should do
If you are good at something, get yourself involved in activities that give you the opportunity to be a blessing and inspiration to people around you. It is erroneous to live a life in which nobody considers you a solution to any problem. That would be a damn waste of life and talent. The end of such a person will be like that of the barren fig tree which Jesus cursed to shrivel to death. Why should you shrivel into obscurity when you can blossom into prosperity?
So get out there, get your feet wet and your hands muddy, work with all your heart and render good service to people wherever you can find them. Solve their problems, bless them with your abilities and make them miss you when you’re gone. Live a full, happy and balanced life giving God the glory in all your achievements. He will not only smile satisfactorily at you, He will also give you greater ability to succeed in all your endeavours, and “your light will so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify you Father who is in heaven.”
- Forgive my somewhat sexist use of the word “he” and “his” in referring to man’s spirit, this is because in the eyes of God, the spirit of a human being has no gender. “He” is suitably generic as it is God’s own preferred way of referring to His favourite creation.
- Featured photo of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey: http://www.liveinternet.ru/community/1763399/post174557440/