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Diligence

vs. Slothfulness
Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it

Key Verse

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”
Colossians 3:23

The operational definition of diligence is “visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it.” Understanding the importance of the tasks God has given to us motivates us to work as hard as we can. When “special assignments” are something we really want to do, we somehow find the time and energy to do them. We ignore distractions as we give the task our wholehearted attention. We rise in the morning ready to accomplish the job before us, and we are eager to talk to others about the goal. Does that sound like a motivated person? Yes! All our energies are funneled into the assigned task—this persevering, focused drive is diligence.

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6–8).
Sloths, so named due to their their lack of vigorous action, are known to be the slowest mammals on earth.

The opposite of diligence is slothfulness. A slothful person may not see the task as a “special assignment” from God or understand why the job is important, or he may simply not care! Without a vision for the purpose or importance of the task, he lacks the desire and energy to accomplish his assignment. A lazy person may not understand how chores help his family to function effectively. A slothful student may not comprehend how working diligently on schoolwork now will yield valuable learning and wisdom to lead a productive life. His focus is on his own comfort, doing as little as possible. He is apathetic about achieving anything for himself, for others, or for God. If you lack energy, concern, or motivation about your tasks and responsibilities, ask God to change your heart and give you a vision and understanding of the importance of your work. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a).

Evaluation Questions

  • Do I start an assigned task quickly and enthusiastically, or do I reluctantly fit it into my schedule?
  • Am I careful to confirm instructions before beginning a project and then follow them as I work on the project?
  • When I have a task to do, do I redeem the time by working steadily, or do I waste time by dawdling?
  • Do I look forward to proceeding to the next task or only to resting or playing after a job is finished?
  • When I review my work, do I consider it as done well and to the best of my ability?
  • Am I prone to “cut corners,” procrastinate, and waste time, or do I reject those aspects of laziness?
  • Do I go “the extra mile” not only by completing the job but also by working wholeheartedly?
  • Do I finish strong or leave projects incomplete?

More About Diligence

“The lazy Christian hath his mouth full of complaints, when the active Christian hath his heart full of comforts.”
Thomas Brooks
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Diligence with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:

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Know that He assigns my tasks.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
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Draw my energy from Him.

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28–31
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Follow instructions carefully.

“Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” Proverbs 19:20
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Do my tasks with excellence.

“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works.” Titus 2:7a
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Concentrate on my work.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1–2a
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Overcome laziness.

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10–11
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Stay focused on the goal.

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:5–6
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Finish my assignments.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:7
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Evaluate my work.

“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” Proverbs 27:23
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Be ready for greater responsibility.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10

Diligence in Scripture

Noah Finishes the Ark

“And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.”
Genesis 7:5–6
Noah was the great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of Adam’s son Seth. During the time that Noah lived, people had become increasingly violent and lived to fulfill their own desires rather than to glorify God. Their marriages did not honor God, and they followed the natural inclinations of their evil hearts. Every aspect of man’s nature was corrupted by sin. Grieved by the wickedness in the world, God sadly determined that He would destroy the earth with a worldwide flood. However, one man—Noah—found grace in the eyes of God. One day, God spoke to Noah. God gave him an important job that would require intensive physical labor over a great number of years. In addition to calling Noah to this huge task, God also gave him specific plans and instructions so Noah would know exactly how to accomplish such a great, important job. Would Noah be confident that God would enable him to do the work that God had called him to do? Would Noah rely on God’s strength to enable him to diligently finish the hard assignment? Why would it be essential for Noah to prepare ahead of time instead of procrastinating to begin the work?

Revealed in Nature

Beaver

Rarely is the beaver inactive. It constantly builds, maintains, works ahead, and cares for its family. Even after its own dam and lodge are established, the beaver keeps busy building additional dams and lodges for future generations.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Learning diligence helps children understand that God has given us work to do, He has given us the ability to do it, and it is an honor and privilege to set our minds to eagerly accomplish His assignment to us.

View the Diligence booklet sample:

Get the complete Diligence booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Diligence

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“Learn to tell the difference between activity and work.”
John Wanamaker
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