Diligence, we are told, is the "persevering application" of effort. Great. But what have I got? Diligence means busy, careful, attentive, disciplined. But what is the opposite of diligence?
Maybe the opposite is procrastination. How many things do I have that "need to be done" but that I do not, in fact, do at all? I remember hearing the old joke that "nothing is really that important, if you wait long enough, it will go away." Which is true, but when it goes the opportunity goes with it. Letters that I should have written, reports I should have read, purchases I should have made, pile up over the years. Maybe the opposite of diligence is procrastination, the tendency to put everything off.
Or maybe the opposite is carelessness. A diligent person takes care of the details of things, but that's not really me, either. I tend to "cut corners" in the things I set out to do. It is so easy to sweep up a room and leave the sweepings in a corner "for later." It is easy to decide to vacuum a room, but not move anything to get under it.
Idleness also comes to mind, and is quite a bit more negative than procrastination (which sounds funny) and carelessness (which sounds kind of innocent and childish). Am I idle? How often have I sat down with something to drink and turned on the television and gotten "caught up" in a show? Amazing how quickly half-an-hour can pass in such idleness. The internet, of course, has made this even easier, as I can sit at my computer and type and everyone will think I am doing something important, not just playing and reading and send messages to people about things that aren't really important.
There are other terms, as well. Slack. Lazy. Indolent. But we don't really want to go there, do we?
Why am I not diligent? Why do I sit at my computer and watch videos when there is so much to be done in my home, in my life, in my work, in my relationships? Why do I think to myself that something needs to be done and put off doing it? Why am I not diligent in the things God has given me?
Scripture urges us to diligence in our spiritual lives. "Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace." 2 Peter 3:14. I fear most of us are not at all diligent in either our spiritual or our domestic lives. We need to be up and about, doing and serving, going about "doing good," as did Our Lord before us.
As Vance Havner, the old evangelist, once put it: "Who am I to remain in my bed, when the farmers are already about their work and I am so far behind in my sanctification?"