2 Peter 1:10 “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;”
In my last post about our calling I talked about our calling (from a general perspective) from the Lord. Certainly, God’s calling is generous and inclusive of everyman, but as Jesus put it, (Matthew 22:14) “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Staying called and chosen is something that we should be paying attention to in our lives, because baptism isn’t a “one and done” kind of thing. Salvation, despite the fact that it is by grace, does take some effort, focus, and care on our part (2 Pet. 1:10 & Php. 2:12).
And according to 2 Peter 1:5 & 10, it begins with diligence. According the dictionary, diligence is “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind,” also “care; caution”; and its application to our spiritual efforts to make certain about our calling and election sure is repeated twice.
Why stress diligence? First of all, the world with which we’re surrounded is fairly lackadaisical about spiritual and religious matters—even folks that consider themselves religious are often not taking it all that seriously. But discipleship to Jesus is not merely one among many things that I should have in my life; it needs to be the primary thing in life. In other words, the last thing in this world that should receive a “lick and a promise” is the Lord’s calling. Yet, with so many poor examples of how to prioritize religion around us, it can be easy to adopt the same lack of seriousness and diligence.
But beyond this, let’s also own up to the fact that over time it can be easy to grow comfortable with where we are spiritually and the degree to which we’ve grown. If we have grown beyond the world’s definition of “religious” we can start to think that we look pretty good—compared to others. But discipleship isn’t about comparing ourselves to anyone else except Jesus.
Paul could provide a good example for us here. Despite the fact that he knew the Scriptures much better than most, despite the fact that he worked harder than the other apostles (1 Cor. 15:10), despite the fact that he was by any measure a spiritual giant; Paul tells us this about his own spiritual diligence,
Philippians 3:12-15 “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;”
The phrase “reaching forward” is the Greek word for “strain” and is the word used for what a runner in a close race does as he crosses the finish line, or what we might do if we drop our keys someplace that we can’t quite reach easily. Effort, extra effort, straining, reaching to gain just a little bit more. That’s what disciples do in diligent growth and service.
Spiritual self-satisfaction is a serious danger to the Christian. Let us never be satisfied with what we know of the Scriptures, with what sins have been banished from our lives, with what good works we added, with what Christian virtue we’ve cultivated, with how many souls we’ve shared the Gospel with, with how long we’ve been serving the Lord, or any other “measure” of spiritual growth in our lives. Instead, let’s show diligence and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.