April 8, 2011
“not lagging behind in diligence,”
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As we travel through Romans 12, we see how the commands in Romans 12:6-13 relate to my daily spiritual life. God teaches me that I will live my life today as a living sacrifice to God, and in particular, how I will use my spiritual gifts to the glory of God. Within this context, I see that God expects me to be diligent. We have already looked at a few verses on diligence related to the daily encouragement for leading (April 2, 2011 “The Spiritual Gift of Leading“). Now, we pray that the Lord Jesus will use His word in this passage to show us how to be diligent today.
Not Lagging Behind. This single adjective here for “not lagging behind” (“ὀκνηροί“) takes on a broader meaning when you understand its other uses in the New Testament. In Matthew 25:26, a related form of the word means “lazy” (“ὀκνηρέ“). In Matthew, Jesus was telling a story about various slaves entrusted with money to invest for their master’s benefit. One slave did not invest, but was afraid and hid the talent in the ground. Jesus called that slave “wicked and lazy.” Therefore, we may gain some insight into the use of spiritual gifts from this word for “not lagging behind.” When it comes to living for Christ in general, and using our spiritual gifts in particular, we should be careful to use our gifts and not bury them in the ground. We should make the most, today, of the wonderful spiritual gifts Christ has bestowed upon us. Someone today could benefit from your word of encouragement, your mercy, your love, or other action in the name of Jesus Christ.
This same word for “not lagging behind” is found in Philippians 3:1. There, the related word is translated “troublesome” (“ὀκνηρόν“). Scholars tell us that this word can also describe things that may make us reluctant to act and so they use the translation “troublesome.” In the context of spiritual gifts, Paul wrote under the inspiration of God. I could not imagine a higher privilege or calling of God. Paul said that reminding saints to rejoice in the Lord was no trouble to him whatsoever, and a safeguard to the Philippian saints. So, when you think about it being troubling or a hassle to use your spiritual gifts, think again. Using your gifts will always be a blessing.
When we link up these different uses of the root word for “not lagging behind,” we see that it basically means not to shrink back, do not hesitate, and move right along with the group. When the Body of Christ depends upon every member using their gift to the glory of God, we all must use our gifts today, and not find it troublesome to do so, or shrink back from God’s program today.
Let me combine a couple of metaphors now. I had friend who suffered a serious stroke. He lost the use of his left arm and left leg. Over time, with daily effort, he regained some use. But never did he return to one hundred percent. Can you picture yourself as one of the limbs that refuses to cooperate and act in harmony with the desires of your will? Your physical brain has suffered an injury, and now your limbs fail to act properly and respond promptly to commands. In the same way, some Christians are like limbs in the Body of Christ that do not respond to the Head, Jesus Christ, who gives us spiritual gifts and commands us to follow His directions to use them.
Diligence. As I mentioned above, you can see how God expects us to be ready, willing, and determined to use our gifts, without ceasing, and without giving up. We saw that “diligence” means we use our gifts with eagerness, we make every effort, and we consistently help others.
So we learn that we must not be lagging behind in diligence today.
● Some days, you may want to sit down, give up, and let the world go on without you. Remember, Jesus commands you to be diligent, and not lag behind. Use your spiritual gifts, and be a help to others today, to the glory of God, by His power, and watch His love operate through you today.
● Diligence means we keep up, buck up, and act with earnestness and eagerness. We feel the Spirit of God moving our hearts to invest our spiritual gifts to the benefit of others, because many of our spiritual friends will have days where they feel like giving up, or sitting down for a while.
● We hinder our spiritual growth when we lag behind, and give up on diligence.
Application for Today
Today, take a look around you. Are members of your family lagging behind on spiritual things? Do they need to see your eagerness and diligence to follow Christ? I want to trust God today to see Him use my spiritual gifts to help others lagging behind. Are you lagging behind in diligence today?