The Power of Diligence
2 Peter 1:5-7
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;…

I. Now as to THE HOMELY VIRTUE ITSELF, "giving all diligence." We all know what "diligence" means, but it is worth while to point out that the original meaning of the word is not so much diligence as haste. It is employed, for instance, to describe the eager swiftness with which the Virgin went to Elizabeth after the angel's salutation and annunciation. It is the word employed to describe the murderous hurry with which Herodias came rushing in to the king to demand John the Baptist's head. It is the word with which the apostle, left solitary in his prison, besought his sole trusty companion Timothy to "make haste so as to come to him before winter." Thus, the first notion in the word is haste. which crowds every moment with continuous effort, and lets no hindrances entangle the feet of the runner. When haste degenerates into hurry, and becomes agitation, it is weakness, not strength; it turns out superficial work, which has usually to be pulled to pieces and done over again, and it is sure to be followed by reaction of languid idleness. But the less we hurry the more should we hasten in running the race set before us. But, with this caution against spurious haste, we cannot too seriously lay to heart the solemn motives to wise and well-directed haste. The moments granted to any of us are too few and precious to be let slip unused. The field to be cultivated is too wide and the possible harvest for the toiler too abundant, and the certain crop of weeds in the sluggard's garden too poisonous, to allow dawdling to be considered a venial fault. Little progress will be made if we do not work as feeling that "the night is far spent, the day is at hand." The first element, then, in Christian diligence is economy of time as of most precious treasure, and the avoidance, as of a pestilence, of all procrastination. "Now is the accepted time." "Wherefore, giving all haste, add to your faith." Another of the phases of the virtue, which Peter here regards as sovereign, is represented in our translation of the word by "earnestness," which is the parent of diligence. Earnestness is the sentiment, of which diligence is the expression. So the word is frequently translated. Hence we gather that no Christian growth is possible unless a man gives his mind to it. Dawdlers will do nothing. There must be fervour if there is to be growth. The engine that is giving off its steam in white puffs is not working at its full power. When we are most intent we are most silent. Earnestness is dumb, and therefore it is terrible. Again we come to the more familiar translation of the word as in the text. "Diligence" is the panacea for all diseases of the Christian life. It is the homely virtue that leads to all success. If you want to be a strong Christian — that is to say, a happy man — you must bend your back to the work and "give all diligence." Nobody goes to heaven in his sleep. No man becomes a vigorous Christian by any other course than "giving all diligence." It is a homely virtue, but if in its homeliness we practised it, this church and our own souls would wear a different face from what it and they do to-day.

II. Note THE WIDE FIELD OF ACTION FOR THIS HOMELY GRACE. First, note that in our text, "giving all diligence, add to your faith." That is to say, unless you work with haste, with earnestness, and therefore with much putting forth of strength, your faith will not evolve the graces of character which is in it to bring forth. He has just been saying that God has "given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, and exceeding great and precious promises." The Divine gift, then, is everything that will help a man to live a high and godly life. And, says Peter, on this very account, because you have all these requisites for such a life already given you, see that you "bring besides into" the heap of gifts, as it were, that which you and only you can bring, namely, "all diligence." The phrase implies that diligence is our contribution. "Diligence" makes faith fruitful. Diligence makes God's gifts ours. Then, again, the apostle gives an even more remark able view of the possible field for this all-powerful diligence when he bids his readers exercise it in order to "make their calling and election sure." If we desire that upon our Christian lives there shall shine the perpetual sunshine of an unclouded continence that we have the love and the favour of God, and that for us there is no condemnation, but only "acceptance in the beloved," the short road to it is the well known and trite path of toil in the Christian life. Still further, one of the other writers of the New Testament gives us another field in which this virtue may expatiate, when the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews exhorts to diligence, in order to attain "the full assurance of hope." The last of the fields in which this virtue finds exercise is expressed by our letter, when Peter says, "seeing that we look for such things, let us be diligent, that we may be found of Him in peace with out spot, and blameless." If we are to be "found in peace," we must be "found spotless," and if we are to be "found spotless" we must be "diligent." What a beautiful ideal of Christian life results from putting together all these items! A fruitful faith, a sure calling, a cloudless hope, a peaceful welcome, at last!

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

WEB: Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge;

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