Dil/i-gence (dil'e jens) n. Steady application in business of any kind; constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken; exertion of body or mind without unnecessary delay or sloth. (Webster's 1828)
That's the word that keeps coming to me as each day I go about the task of keeping a clean home and an atmosphere that expresses to God that I am thankful for the gifts He has given me. With eight young children and a full time ministry that is operated from our home, being a good steward definitely requires constant effort and much exertion of body and mind! It requires diligence.
Without diligence in the management of my home, my previous efforts are all in vain. Long gone are the days of the "once a week" housecleaning. Try several times a day and you would be more accurate.
Yet the Lord has been using this in my life to teach me how to "Keep my heart with all diligence" (Pr. 4:23a). We must never become slothful in removing the clutter from our hearts or put off dealing with the areas that the Lord is shining the light on, else it will overtake everything else that has already been washed by the water of the Word.
Also, the more the Lord entrusts us with, the more diligent we must become. Just as when I begin to focus and put my efforts toward one room of my home to "deep clean" it, I take joy in leaving a perfectly ordered room only to find the rest of my home ashambles. Is that not sometimes true with the rooms of our heart?
If only we could clean it all up, shut the door and never have to worry about it again. But then it's not long before cobwebs and mildew begin to set in.
And of course we desire to be useful to God, not to simply sit on the pew looking good. Yet to be used means we will make a mess (Pr. 14:4).
So just as you who have small children must settle it in your hearts now that there will not be much sitting down for you until they have grown older, you who are bearing much fruit for the kingdom must also make it a lifestyle of keeping every area of your heart with all diligence, lest 'the mess' (pride, selfishness, worldliness, etc) gradually overtake you while you are otherwise occupied.
And for those of you who are not busy about your Father's business... "Beware of the cobwebs."
How to keep your heart in all diligence: "Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or to the left; Remove your foot from evil" (Pr. 4:24).