Diligent & Approved
diligent (noun): having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties
In my Bible study meeting last night, we looked at 2 Timothy 2:15 which says:
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
This scripture prompted me to rethink just how diligent I was in the assignment I had been given. It was a hard mirror to look into and, after much reflection, I wondered if the easiest thing to do was just continue as I was and pray for God to do the rest? Then in my study, because I was determined to hold on to the word God had given me regarding the assignment He gave me, I knew that God had already prepared the way for me to walk and I was equipped for good works (Eph 2:10). That word comforted me to no end and gave me the extra push I needed to continue.
What I have described here all happened in the space of a few days and through all that, God was preparing a message! It wasn't the one I expected, but it was definitely what I needed to learn and know more about. So, when we talk about being diligent, it's no small task and we'll always need encouragement along the way. I rely so heavily on the Spirit of God to lead me now more than ever. I cannot rely on my own understanding because that will never give me the approval from God I need. Our diligence is what God sees and on the Last Day, will allow us to hear the words, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant'. In order to receive the approval from our Heavenly Father, we need to be mindful of the following:
We need to grow in our understanding of the word of God: The written word (logos) is one thing and the spoken word (rhema) is another thing entirely. Now, unfortunately, most people stop at the logos word and do not take the time to sit still and wait for the rhema word which is where we receive our answers and instructions from God. The reason we are able to receive our answers is because of the understanding God gives to us, based on His written word. Paul encourages the church to grow in maturity and understanding of the word (Hebrews 5:11-14) which will enable us to discern from right and wrong.
Tests will come: Job said most things we reference regarding tests and in Job 23:10, Job is assured that although he cannot 'see' God in his predicament, he will come out pure as gold when he is tested. What a word from a guy who endured so much! The disciples were also tested during the time they spent with Jesus and each time, Jesus took the time to explain anything they had missed; He was preparing them for the work they had when He was gone. Those are great references to learn from when we go through our own tests. Jesus speaking in parables was to go beyond simply listening, to actually understanding the things of the spirit. With each test we pass, we reach a new level in God where we gain a deeper understanding and more personal revelation of who He is!
We must complete the work: There is plenty of work to be done in the Kingdom of God and God is always seeking labourers to work in His vineyard (Matthew 9:37). Our diligence in seeking God and rightly dividing His truth has to serve a purpose. In the parable of the talents, we see that those who were diligent, and knew what the master wanted, went out and put their talents to work. The one who didn't follow that pattern had his talent taken away from him, even the little he had! As members of one body, we must realise that we have a role to carry out and as we get closer to God, we will gain a better understanding of how best to use the gifts we have been given.
Church leaders have a role to play but so do we: Yes, religious leaders and teachers will absolutely be held accountable for their role but guess what, so will we! In 2 Timothy 2:20-21, we are encouraged to aspire to be vessels of honour (made of gold), used for God's special purposes and we do this by being diligent in our spiritual growth. Another aspect of this is ensuring that even as we allow God to refine us and purify us for His special purpose, we do not allow any man to bring impurities into what is being built. In 1 Corinthians 3:12, leaders can build with clay, straw, gold, etc. and what they build (us) will be tested on the Last Day. What an awful day it will be if the fire that tests us shows us to be built with anything other than gold! It is our duty to discern what is being poured into us; human wisdom or Godly wisdom?
On that final point, a member of the group asked how we would know we were growing spiritually and therefore how we would discern the good material from the bad material and my answer is this: John10:27. We are His sheep and we should know His voice. Now, this will take time as we grow to know and be familiar with God's voice, even when He speaks through someone else (even a donkey!). Hence why we must remain diligent - if we don't know the voice of our shepherd and, how will we follow Him? I will be the first to admit that I look back on some of my bible study notes and I laugh at myself because there were times I just missed it! Literally just missed it (haha) BUT, I also thank God for growth because I can see there is growth. That didn't happen overnight, but it did happen!