Every December, I pray for a word for the coming year. Almost every year the Lord gives me a song to go along with it (He’s always used music as one of the ways to speak to me). This year, the word for 2020 (for me personally) is diligence. The song that went along with it was “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash, specifically this lyric:
“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time…”
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”Proverbs 4:23
Diligence is characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort: painstaking. (Merriam Webster Dictionary). It is painstaking work to keep my heart. My emotions run away with me, my desires entice me constantly, and my imagination is quite actively anxious and prideful. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer 17:9)
We can begin to know it if we are diligent in keeping it. Here’s how:
“And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”2 Peter 1:5-10
Virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity are faith put into action. Notice that each of these is something we have to be diligent to add to our faith; they aren’t just automatic. We have to work at these things! Here’s how:
- Get in the Word – read it, listen to it, meditate on it, memorize it, speak it over yourself. “These words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: and you shall teach them diligently (there’s that word again) to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontiers between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the posts of your house, and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) All day e’ry day!
- Pray – Cast your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you. Give it all to Him, ask for His help, and diligently seek Him. “…He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6b)
- Wait on the Lord in expectant silence – Get quiet before the Lord and He will reveal to you the hidden areas of your life that keep you from producing good fruit. While He does that, He’ll also renew your strength to be able to endure His discipline and please Him. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
- Take every thought captive – Line everything you think, say, and do up to the Word (which is Jesus) to see whether it measures up evenly with Him.
Part of our due diligence as Christians is to stand on the foundation of faith in Jesus, our chief cornerstone, and stay on the straight and narrow vertical line (the plumb line – the Word – Christ). Let me explain:
“In construction, a framing member or wall installed so it is perfectly vertical, or plumb, will transfer its supporting load directly downward, giving it maximum load-bearing capacity. By contrast, if vertical elements are not installed exactly plumb, some of the weight is off-center and can apply considerable additional stress to the member…A few degrees out of plumb and entire buildings can come toppling down.”The Spruce, Jeff Beneke, 2019
Think about that in terms of us and Jesus (the Word): if we are standing on the foundation/the cornerstone and live our lives in deviation to the foundation/cornerstone, it will cause us to fall (pride cometh before a fall). If we line up (plumb) with the Word, however, we will be able to withstand anything that comes our way as we stand upon the Rock, walk the [plumb] line, and are able to transfer all the stress to Christ who holds us up. Make sense?
Interestingly enough, a few months ago I had a dream about standing in front of a moving wall and I was painting it white. I won’t go into the rest of the dream, but I woke up with an urgency, knowing God was calling me to some serious work in my heart. A song was in my head as I woke up with these lyrics: “Lord I’m ready now, all the walls are down. Time is running out and I wanna make this count. I ran away from you, and did what I wanted to. But I don’t wanna let you down. Oh Lord, I’m ready now…” Obviously I had some areas of my life that weren’t “plumb.” Oh by the way, that song? It’s sung by a band called Plumb.
And so, with the New Year just around the corner, I’m challenging you (and me, of course) to give diligence to your walk with the Lord, working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Get those walls of your heart plumb with Christ the Word and walk the line.
Prayer: God help me to be diligent, to keep my heart plumb with You. I don’t want to be measured and found with any deviation to You. I want to walk the line straight and keep a close watch on this heart of mine with my eyes wide open. Help me to see. Remove the blinders from my eyes, and help me to know right from wrong. Teach me to study Your Word so I know how to measure myself against it. Thank You for being my Savior, my great Architect, my plumb line, my cornerstone, and the builder of my faith. In Jesus’s name, Amen.