Whatever your political views, if you watched the televised funeral of President George H. W. Bush, you probably wiped a tear from your eyes when his son, George W. Bush, gripped the pulpit, bent over choked in grief, and called his dad “a great and noble man, and the best father a son or daughter could have.”
That poignant moment occurred near the end of Bush’s eulogy of his father, and as I listened to the tribute I was particularly struck by one statement. The younger Bush said of his father, “He taught us that a day was not meant to be wasted. He played golf at a legendary pace. I always wondered why he insisted on speed golf. He was a good golfer. Well, here’s my conclusion: He played fast so that he could move on to the next event, to enjoy the rest of the day, to expend his enormous energy, to live it all. He was born with just two settings: full throttle, then sleep.”1
I believe the apostle Peter was a “full throttle” guy too. His adrenaline never seemed to run out, and he encouraged his readers to be fully engaged in their pursuit of Christ and the Christlike life.
In 2 Peter 1:5, the apostle used a word frequently found in the Bible—diligence. Diligence may sound old-fashioned, but it’s a quality I keep bumping into. It’s especially present in biographies of productive, effective men and women past and present, some well-known and others who lived under the radar.
One of my better-known heroes is Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I’ve probably quoted him in books and sermons more than any other single figure. In 1850, Spurgeon, in his mid-teens at the time, decided to follow Jesus Christ. He started preaching the very next year, and there was no stopping him. At age nineteen, he became pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London, and almost instantly no auditorium in London was large enough for the crowds wanting to hear him. With few or no notes, he stood in the pulpit and eloquently expounded the Word of God.
Stenographers in the audience recorded his sermons in shorthand, and he personally edited each one for publication. By the end of his life, the collected volumes of Spurgeon’s sermons represented the largest single set of Christian books by one author in the history of Christianity—a feat that stands to this day. His 3,561 sermons are bound in sixty-three volumes filled with twenty million words—the equivalent of the twenty-seven volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spurgeon himself was a ravenous reader. His personal library contained twelve thousand volumes, and he typically read six books a week. He devoured commentaries and works by the Puritan giants, as well as newspapers and periodicals. His Bible was always open and his pen always flowing. He answered correspondence, started dozens of benevolent agencies, published a magazine called The Sword and the Trowel, established a college where he lectured, and wrote one book after another on many subjects. He often worked eighteen hours a day and preached ten times a week.2
Spurgeon had only two speeds: full throttle and sleep. He once said, “A man cannot be idle and yet have Christ’s sweet company. Christ is a quick walker and when His people would talk with Him they must travel quickly, too, or else they will soon lose His company.”3
On another occasion Spurgeon exclaimed, “The sin of doing nothing is about the biggest of all sins, for it involves most of the others. . . . Horrible idleness! God save us from it!”4
Two men. One was a president, the other a preacher—but they both shared a common virtue: diligence. And they both changed the world.
Let’s face it: we don’t get very far if we idle through life. When your car is idling, it’s making no progress toward the destination. And when you’re idling, you’re wasting one resource that is not recoverable—your time, the very hours of your life.
UNDERSTANDING THE HEART OF DILIGENCE
According to the book of 2 Peter, diligence is an essential ingredient in withstanding the pressures of the world and grasping everything you need for life and godliness. The Lord offers divine resources to us through His very great and precious promises, but you have to grab on to the promises and go with them.
David Jeremiah, Everything You Need: 8 Essential Steps to a Life of Confidence in the Promises of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019).
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