“Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart.” – Romans 12:10-11
Diligence comes with Love.
God is a God of order (1st Corinthians 14:40). There is a way he wants things to get done, both practically and spiritually (1st Corinthians 14:33). No one likes to go somewhere where things are out of order, and there is utter chaos. God gives us the wisdom to be able to setup systems and measures so that things can get done in an orderly way.
Now as much as the order is important, like anything, it can become the focus instead of helping us focus on God.
How can we know when this is happening?
Well, “diligence” can be taken to mean something apart from love. We can in the name of “keeping things in order” begin to treat people like they are not “diligent” enough, meeting the standards, or performing to par. Diligence apart from love can hide behind and even be justified by the goals of wanting to do more for God. But, we are not doing more for God, we are getting in the way of God.
There a story where two sisters Mary and Martha are spending time with Jesus at their house (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was very diligent to make sure she was cleaning and tidying up the house while her sister Mary was sitting with Jesus just listening to him. What’s funny is how the bible says Martha became “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made,” but it leads her to refer to Mary as lazy for not helping her. My only point from the story is that Martha seems to be very diligent, but it’s clearly outside of love, and it’s why Jesus told Martha “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
We have developed high expectations for everything in the name of serving the Highest. Well, that is not always a good thing. You see we can hurt people by placing this burden on them rather than under them. Instead of seeing the need for order and coming under people to empower and help them reach the expectation, we can instead criticize them for not performing well enough to attain it.
That is how people have divorced love from diligence.
In the name of being “diligent” for the Lord, we chastise his servants for not doing enough, or not doing things good enough to “God’s Standards.” All the while their version of “God’s Standards” has nothing to do with Loving others, and does not help people grow to learn to be diligent. This kind of diligence is demonic because it’s centered on selfish interests (James 3:14-16) rather than seeking the betterment of others to do well (1st Corinthians 10:24; Romans 15:2).
God does have High Expectations. It is seen in how we love one another when someone fails and makes mistakes (Colossians 3:13). Those are the moments that real diligence can be demonstrated. The mentality that everything must be perfect for God, and creating environments where failures are prevented will not show real diligence for the Lord. It just breeds hypocrisy and makes us Pharisees at best (Matthew 23:23). Loving one another is the empowerment to working hard and serving the Lord. We can be diligent, and orderly, but if they are not accomplished along side loving and helping people, we are not doing anything orderly or diligently for God. Zeal for anything without Love is pointless and meaningless (Romans 10:1-3).
“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” – Hebrews 6:10