"You have commanded Your precepts be diligently kept." 119.4
Diligence. It is the kind of word we expect wise leaders and noble kings to call their subjects to. It is the kind of thing which teachers long for their students to demonstrate. When I write “diligence” my mind conjures up Winston Churchill calling on the British people to be diligent against their enemies and those who would take our freedom and cause us to live in fear - heartily speaking the rousing syllables “di-li-gen-ce” with a cigar firmly between his teeth and a fist raised high in the air.
Sadly, diligence is a neglected virtue in the 21st century. Very few people seem to be diligent about anything. We live in a world where everything and anything is at our fingertips through the internet, where televisions and films take us instantly across the globe or even to other worlds, and where more books filled with stories and distractions are published each year than ever before - not to mention my favourite time consuming, diligence eating, past time: computer games.
With so many distractions it is little wonder we find it ever more difficult to stick at something. Long gone are the days when a person would pick a single trade or hobby and become a master of it to the exclusion of others. These days if you want to pick up a musical instrument the world offers you a confusing selection of options and capitalism ensures that if you have the money you can try them all till you find the one you like the most. Getting bored of attempting to master painting watercolours? No problem! Just swap to another kind of art, heck you can even leave the traditional materials and do everything on your computer. Getting tired of actually having a job? No problem! Just move into your parents basement and create a man-cave of action figures (in their boxes obviously!) and gaming consoles.
When it comes to the precepts of God, however, His commands and decrees, we are called on to keep them all with diligence. We are to be careful in observing them and persistent in bringing each and every area of our life under His command. This takes effort, it is a process which we will have to go through till we die and we are finally glorified at the resurrection. When we take knocks, when we fall and fail, when we face opposition or oppression, we cannot turn to some other way of life - we must be diligent and focused. As a stonemason carefully chips away at the boulder to make a beautiful statue, so we too must chip away at our lives to make ourselves into an image of Jesus Christ. The stonemason requires concentration, vision, training, time, patience, and of course great diligence. The same is true for our sanctification. When people look at our lives, would they see in us people who diligently fulfil the commands of God. Let us call on Jesus to grant us this diligence through the Holy Spirit at work within us.