The Continental army huddled together, desperately fighting to preserve what little cohesion they possessed. They were short on food, clothing, ammunition, manpower, and everything else that armies run on. Not a good situation anytime, but especially for January 18, 1776.
But, there was a plan and a man of diligence executing it. The course of history was soon to be altered.
Boston had fallen in the spring of 1775 when the British won the Battle of Bunker Hill. The task now facing the Continentals was the regaining of Boston—an impossibility without heavy artillery.
In November of 1775, General Washington commissioned a twenty-five year old, 250 pound amateur engineer named Henry Knox to bring the artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. This would be a simple task for today’s army with its cargo planes and trucks. But for Henry Knox, this was a monumental request that would tax every ounce of diligence and ingenuity he could muster. Two mountain ranges, multiple rivers, and a harsh New England winter lay along the 300 miles that separated Fort Ticonderoga from the city of Boston.
The initial step was to build rafts and transport the guns across the southern tip of Lake Champlain. As history recounts, some of the rafts sank—but the guns were recovered. Think for a moment about swimming in Lake Champlain in the winter. Many men would have moved on toward Boston without the entire inventory.
As the commissioned contingent reoriented itself and prepared to launch again toward Boston, Old-Man Winter plunged an icy finger into the northeast. Many men’s lives were spent fighting the icy blast, but the cold that stole those lives also froze the ground and waterways.
Knox seized his opportunity. He reconstructed the rafts into sleds and skidded his iron-laden procession across the Berkshires and Taconics toward Framingham and the outskirts of Boston where Washington and the balance of the Continental army waited.
All of the artillery was delivered in just a little over two months from when he was given his assignment. Henry Knox was diligent, to say the least.
In one of the most phenomenal nights ever recorded in military history, a fourteen-mile perimeter was established around Boston. Dorchester Heights was fortified using the larger of the canons and mortars. When the British spied the heavy armaments lurking down on the city from the heights, they silently left Boston, sailing for Nova Scotia. Not a shot was fired, not a life was lost through armed conflict.
Proverbs 12:27 states, “The precious possession of a man is diligence.” Conversely, it declares, “The complacency of fools shall destroy them” (1:32).
In one of the great passages on Christian responsibility, Peter dogmatically asserts the importance of diligence, at all cost, in the development and demonstration of integrity and character. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge…” (2 Peter 1:1-15, esp. v. 5).
A Christian who is not a person of diligence is not worth much in the realm of dependability. And when it comes to survivability, a Christian who does not approach living diligently from the proper perspective is not dependable either. He is destined for frustration and failure.
Peter had a profound purpose for beginning verse five with the provocative, “…for this very reason…” He intends for us to question, “For what very reason?”
Verses 3-4 tell us why are to respond with diligence...
We have been granted:
· Everything relating life (Christ is our life)
· Everything relating to godliness (reflecting this life of Christ).
We are called:
· By God’s glory (the quality of His person)
· By God’s excellence (the quality of His actions).
Through the depth of God’s being and the dependability of His actions, He has granted to us:
· His precious and magnificent promises
· To become partakers in the divine nature
· Deliverance from the corruption of the world around us
It is only with these things entrenched in his readers’ minds that Peter is ready to discuss the importance of diligence. He knew that to labor diligently without comprehending who you are in Christ can only mean a legalistic, religious trip.
This would leave you just as vulnerable to sin’s onslaught as living without diligence in the first place.
It is not enough, indeed it would be cruel, to write of diligence and the critical necessity of this character quality in your life without reminding and informing you of the foundation from which you must act. There is nothing you can do for God to enhance your standing with Him.
Neither can you sit idle. Satan will not hesitate to shoot a sitting duck. You move forward diligently, but only with the understanding of who you are in Christ and who He is in you.
Thus, Peter is doing much more than just writing about Christian character and its development. He understands the rudimentary principles of diligence.
You must distinguish who you are before you can act accordingly. Through this understanding the Christian life is kept in perspective.
Is diligence an option for the Christian? Not really. It is necessary for your personal well-being and imperative if you are going to present an accurate picture of Christ to those you encounter.
Diligence is the essence of obedience. Said yet another way—and read closely lest you misunderstand me—the Christian life is more than salvation. It is crucial to know we are justified, sanctified, glorified, and righteous in Christ. But, we must move from salvation toward Christian maturity. As we grow, the ability to reflect the life of Christ in our daily walk increases.
When Peter writes of “applying all diligence,” he is indicating that we must employ every last resource in steady, earnest, energetic application, and thoughtful effort. As Benjamin Disraeli, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, said, “The secret to success is constancy to purpose.”
So after writing previously about the apathy plaguing us in the western church, I issue a challenge for diligence—to myself and to you as well. There are those who will contend that the life of grace does not require diligence. In fact, there are those who will declare my thoughts on the necessity of diligence to be legalistic.
Let scripture be our guide: Peter called for “applying all diligence.” Paul told Timothy to discipline (himself) for the purpose of godliness.” Hebrews exhorts us to “run with endurance.”
Looking back farther, Joseph is an example of diligence as he faithfully administered his responsibilities whether in prison or seated next to Pharaoh. Ruth refused to compromise her loyalty to her family and friends for self-gratification and instead lived a life of diligent obedience. Scripture says of Gideon and his army that they were weary, yet they pursued their enemies.
All of these people struggled to be diligent. They faced hurdles and challenges, and if you review their lives in the biblical record, you will discover that the impediments they faced are similar to the chasms before you.
Diligence doesn’t just occur. It is forged through focused determination. Think back to the story of Henry Knox dragging the guns from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. An incredible feat, but necessary to win the day.
Now is the time to step back momentarily to gain perspective: Who are you? What are you about? Whose are you? Whom do you represent? Who lives within you?
Jesus Christ is your life and living can only be summed up in Christ (ref. Phil. 1:21). He is your all in all, your everything, your hope, your meaning, your sense of worth. He is your well being.
With this awareness and conviction, now is the moment to put aside whatever encumbers and entangles you. Now is the moment to seize diligence. The day demands nothing less.