Summary: This is a word study in sermon form on the word diligence


Proverbs 4:23

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

INTRODUCTION: It is important as believers that we understand the clear meaning of the word diligence so that we may know how we should exercise diligence in our Christian walk. The word diligent or diligence is a strong word both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We will study its meaning and then apply the way that the word is used for our better understanding.

WORD STUDIES: Our Text verse uses the word diligence a little differently in the Old Testament than it does in the New Testament. Notice the meaning as it appears in Strong’s Concordance: To guard, guard post, act of guarding. As the word diligence is applied to the heart, it means that we should stand watch, in a very protective manner, over our hearts just as we would be guarding precious jewels.

In the New Testament, diligence is primarily an attitude which leads to an action. Diligence means to do something with intense effort and motivation, with quick movement and is in opposition to the attitude of slothfulness. The individual who is diligent is eager to do something and ready to expend the necessary energy and effort.

Webster defines diligence (and I paraphrase) as steady, earnest, attentive and energetic application and effort in a pursuit. This person is not lackadaisical! He or she exhibits the proverbial diligence of a bee ("busy as a bee"). When Peter uses this word in his second Epistle, he is saying the saint is to put forth zealous persistence in accomplishing his goal.

Spurgeon exhorts us to all diligence...

“For we cannot expect to go to heaven asleep. We are not taken there against our wills. It is not our will that accomplishes our salvation; but still, it is not accomplished without our will. “Giving diligence,”yes, but more than that, “giving all diligence,”---It is not man’s effort that saves him; but, on the other hand, grace saves no man to make him like a log of wood or a block of stone; grace makes man active. God has been diligently at work with you; now you must diligently work together with him.”

Alexander Maclaren writes that...

“We all know what ‘diligence’ means, but it is worthwhile to point out that the original meaning of the word is not so much diligence as haste. It is employed, for instance, to describe the eager swiftness with which the Virgin went to Elizabeth after the angel’s salutation and annunciation. It is the word employed to describe the murderous hurry with which Herodias came rushing in to the king to demand John the Baptist’s head. It is the word with which the Apostle, left solitary in his prison, besought his sole trusty, companion Timothy to ‘make haste so as to come to him before winter.’ (see notes on 2 Timothy 4:21) (see excellent sermon 2 Timothy 4:21 Come Before Winter) Thus, the first notion in the word is haste, which crowds every moment with continuous effort, and lets no hindrances entangle the feet of the runner. Wise haste has sometimes to be content to go slowly. ‘Raw haste’ is ‘half sister to delay.’ When haste degenerates into hurry, and becomes agitation, it is weakness, not strength; it turns out superficial work, which has usually to be pulled to pieces and done over again, and it is sure to be followed by reaction of languid idleness. But the less we hurry the more should we hasten in running the race set before us.”

Now, may we notice some ways that the word diligence is used in the Scriptures and notice the diligence that we should have in our lives in THREE BIG AREAS:


Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Jude knew the importance of what he was writing about. He was writing about the necessity of contending for the faith. He hastened to warn against apostasy as it pertained to the common salvation. We ought to have that kind of diligence as when it comes to salvation.


Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

A Christian cannot properly stand if he has not made his call and his election sure. If a person is not sure of and giving diligence to both his call and his election as it applies to salvation and service, he will fall. I have never seen anyone greatly used of God who fails to exercise diligence…

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