The Secret of Survival

The diligent hand will rule, but laziness will lead to forced labor.—Proverbs 12:24

We need to make clear the difference between diligence and obstinacy. I know people who have experienced spiritual shipwreck because they didn’t know the difference between these two things. When asked to clarify the difference between perseverance and obstinacy, a student wrote: “One is a strong will and the other is a strong won’t.” Diligence is dogged perseverance; obstinacy is dogged inflexibility and self-will.

A man whose life was full of promise as far as the Christian ministry was concerned now spends his days in depression because he did not know the difference between these two things. He set out on a project that he thought was God’s will for him, and when things started to go wrong, instead of checking his guidance, he continued to press on and ended up in failure. Those who loved him, and were more objective, urged him to give up as what he was doing was clearly not the will of God. However, he did not have the wisdom to realize that what he was doing was not being diligent but obstinate. Now he lives in perpetual disillusionment.

When Jesus came to Calvary, He said, “I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do” (Jn 17:4). Note the word “You.” There were many who would have liked Jesus to do this and that, to go here and go there, but He did only what the Father required Him to do. Saying “yes” to God’s will and pursuing it is diligence. Saying “yes” to a thing that is not God’s will and pursuing that is obstinacy. We had better learn the difference.

Prayer

Father, I see how important it is to be clear about these two issues. Help me differentiate between diligence and obstinacy so that at the end of my time here on earth I, too, will be able to say, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do.” Amen.

Further Study

Mt 25:14-30; 7:26; Jms 2:14

What was Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the talents?

Why were the two who multiplied the talents successful?

2 thoughts on “The Secret of Survival

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