In Tuesday’s post, I argued from Matthew 25:14-30 (the Parable of the Talents) that diligence is an assurance of salvation issue. I also suggested that some of us may be struggling in our Christian lives because we have neglected to exercise our gifts and use our God-given resources for the glory of Christ and the benefit of our neighbor. Continue reading “Diligence and the Gospel of Grace”
A few weeks ago I took our college group—and later in the week, our young professionals—through a study on what the Proverbs say about diligence. The week prior we had all been laid low by the many Proverbs that condemn laziness.
I began the lesson my noting that diligence is an “all of life” issue. That is, rather than talking about work ethic—a metric that is typically used in relation to how we approach our job or career—we should speak in terms of diligence and how Scripture calls us to apply diligence to every facet of our lives: our walk with Christ, our jobs, our relationships, our responsibilities at home, our ministries, and even our recreation (see Prov 12:27; 19:24)! Continue reading “The Connection Between Assurance, Depression, and Diligence”
I love mornings. I do not love the sound of the alarm, or having to pull myself out of bed after several nights of minimal sleep, but for the most part, I look forward to mornings. I started to notice an affection for this part of the day when I moved from Los Angeles to San Jose, California in order to take a job as a Director of Middle School Ministries at a church in the South Bay.
Every morning during the week and on Sundays, I would wake up, shower, eat breakfast, and head off to work. I loved it. Granted, this is not headline-making news. What is remarkable, however, is during the days in which I did not have work—holidays, vacation days—and I was at home lounging around, watching television and cruising the Internet, I found I was far less satisfied indulging in laziness than I was by putting in a hard day’s work.
The deception of laziness is that it promises more pleasure than hard work. It will be quicker to simply memorize facts than understand the larger concepts behind those facts; it will feel better to watch the football game than it would to spend adequate time on my homework; it will be easier to only spend 30 minutes cleaning out the garage than two hours.
The phrase used in the title of this essay is actually a quote from Jim Elliot, the God-centered missionary and martyr to the Quichua and Auca Indians in Ecuador. Devin, however, helped me to see what this truth meant practically during a conversation in the hall of a college dorm one evening.
I was a year and a half away from graduation and Devin was a semester away from donning the cap and gown, so our conversation that night focused on the subject of our futures. What were we going to do after graduation? What did we want to do after college? Even more daunting: what would be doing in the next 10 years? These are the kinds of questions that have the tendency to give a college student stomach aches as he sits on the threshold of his graduation.
Ironically (but not surprisingly) I was more anxious than Devin concerning my future, even though I had another full year and a half before I graduated. Devin gently inquired into my plans and aspirations with heart-searching questions. I would respond with several “I don’t knows” and “I just really wannas.” But instead of sternly rebuking this sincere but worried college student, Devin brought me face to face to reality and gave to me a treasure of wisdom that profits me to this day.
Devin asked me, “What has the Lord put before you? Your school work. Your family. Your friends and your ministry at church. Focus on these and do them with all your heart for His glory and God will guide you and provide for you.” That conversation was probably one of the greatest helps I received while at college. Devin’s exhortation was simply an application of the principle Christ laid down in Matthew 25:21 when He commended the servant who multiplied his five talents by saying, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” The principle: faithfulness in little prepares a person for greater responsibility. Another way to say it: You concern yourself the depth of your life and ministry and let God concern Himself with the breadth of your life and ministry.
For the rest of my time at college I would regularly apply this principle as I studied, nurtured relationships and did ministry, and it is this instruction from Devin that has brought me back time and time again, from unnecessary worry and panic about the future to focused, content and heart-felt labor.