OceanSide church of Christ
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LANGUIDLY? OR, DILIGENTLY?
Victor M. Eskew
After putting on Christ in the waters of baptism, we rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). This new life involves living by the moral code of the New Testament. It involves a life of steadfast worship. It involves daily growth from being a child to becoming a full-grown Christian. It involves learning new skills so we can labor and serve in the vineyard of the Lord. It involves developing spiritual knowledge and understanding. It involves loving and serving others to the best of our ability. It involves molding ourselves more and more into the image of Christ. It involves constantly ridding ourselves of sin and manifesting a life of holiness.
A question that we need to ask ourselves is: “Am I progressing in Christ languidly? Or, am I developing in Christ diligently?” The word “languid” means: “without energy or spirit, without interest or enthusiasm, sluggish; inactive” (www.dictionary.com). The word “diligent” is defined as: “constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything; done or pursued with persevering attention.”
Most Christians would like to say that they are diligently pursuing their Christians lives. However, about the only thing some Christians do, other than living a moral life, is attend the worship services of the church. And, some of those only attend one of those services each week. Let’s see. I don’t practice overt sin and I attend the worship services and Bible studies four hours each week. This is what I believe constitutes diligence within the kingdom of God. There is no doubt that holy living and assembling to worship are part of a faithful Christian’s life. However, let’s read the definition of languid again: “without energy or spirit, without interest or enthusiasm, sluggish; inactive.” Does it really require very much effort to live godly lives and attend the worship services of the church? Most of us can do those two things with ease. We might say that most can do these things with two hand tied behind their backs. There is very little effort or sacrifice on our parts to complete these actions.
The Bible exhorts us to diligence. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2:14). “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (II Pet. 1:10-11). In the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16), the householder went out five times to hire laborers into his vineyard. Those who were hired at the eleventh hour were first asked a question. “And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?” (Matt. 20:6). The householder frowned on individuals being idle. Workers need to be working and laboring and toiling in the day for the night cometh when no man can work.
Many of us have been Christians for several years. Our knowledge of the Bible should involve knowing more than the basics about popular Bible stories. Can we say the books of the Bible? Do we know why each book of the Bible was written? Can we show the verses that support the gospel plan of salvation to someone who is lost? Can we take the Bible and refute common false doctrines that exist in our society? Can we prove that the kingdom is in existence? Can we show someone that a capella music is the authorized music of the New Testament? These are just a few simple things that Christians who have grown in their knowledge ought to be able to do. If you cannot do these things, the question you need to as is: “Why can’t I?” The Bible exhorts us to study (II Tim. 2:15). The American Standard Version (ASV) translates this verse as follows: “Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.” True study involves diligence. The wise Solomon affirmed this in Ecclesiastes 12:12. “…and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Perhaps you have been languid in acquiring Bible knowledge. You are not where you ought to be in your Bible knowledge for the amount of time you have been a Christian. Today, you can reverse this trend. You can begin to apply yourself to your Bible study. If desired, a person can acquire Bible knowledge relatively quickly.
Some might be thinking that they are not really languid, but they are not really diligent either. These individuals are what we might call tepid. The definition of “tepid” is “moderately warm” and “lukewarm.” The church at Laodicea, one of the seven churches of Asia, was described in this way by our Lord when He gave His assessment of them. Here is what the Lord said: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). Christians who are lukewarm are not pleasing to the Lord. In fact, He says that they make Him sick. The problem with lukewarmness is that Christians are satisfied. They have reached a plateau upon which they are comfortable. The prophet Amos addressed those who are comfortable in Amos 6:1. He declares: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…”
Dear readers, we must be diligent in our service to the Lord unto the end. The writer of Hebrews exhorts all of us with these words: “And we desire that every one of you shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end” (Heb. 6:11). One must ask: “How do I develop more diligence for the Master? The answer lies in our understanding of the love of God, the grace of God, the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, and the forgiveness of sins. Those who have a proper grasp of these things will be attentive and persistent as they labor in the vineyard of the Lord. They will expend as much energy as they possibly can trying to minister as the servants of Christ.