“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
SOME QUESTIONS CALL FOR A SOBER, DELIBERATE CONCENTRATION OF OUR MINDS, AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS SURELY THAT OF OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. What endeavor could possibly be more worthy of diligence than the seeking of our Creator’s glory?
Trifling is undesirable even in worldly matters. Those who dabble in what they do, acting superficially and without any serious intent, rarely accomplish any lasting good. But to trifle with God is not only undesirable; it is deadly. The irreverence which insults God by dabbling in worship and discipleship is a sin of such profound implications that we probably have no more than an inkling of how offensive it is to Him. When we see that we’re being careless, Solomon’s warning about the “sacrifice of fools” ought to arrest us: “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil” (Ecclesiastes 5:1).
If we wish to do what is right toward God, we must have an earnest intent. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God,” Paul wrote to Timothy. In this text, the KJV translators conveyed the idea of diligence with the word “study,” which in their day meant “to endeavor, make it one’s aim, set oneself deliberately to do something” (OED). To “study” is to work hard at what we’re doing, and when we’re doing something that is to be offered to the very God who made us, a “studied” effort is appropriate, to say the least. In an earlier letter, Paul had written to Timothy, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15). In matters of the spirit, little progress can be made if progress is not a serious goal.
As busy people, we tend to see religion as one activity on our agenda, one element in our lifestyle. But to be real, religion must be more than simply one of our interests. Our meditative moments must do more than supply “balance” to our schedule, so that we can get back to our self-centered business with increased vigor. If Mammon is our true master, then whatever moments we spend “worshiping” God will be wasted.
“Those who trifle lose their labor” (Richard Baxter).