While recently reading 2 Peter, I noticed that Peter begins and ends 2 Peter with an appeal to his readers to be diligent. To be diligent is “to be especially conscientious in discharging an obligation, be zealous/eager, take pains, make every effort, be conscientious.”1
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:10, ESV, emphasis added)
Diligence in confirming one’s calling and election has to do with practicing the qualities Peter had just enumerated: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, piety (godliness), brotherly love, and love. In fact, the noun form of this word occurs in 1:5. The NASB reads, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence…” (2 Peter 1:5, NASB). Clearly, Peter doesn’t want us to be haphazard or careless about Christian living.
Peter ends his letter with another appeal to be diligent:
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, ESV, emphasis added)
If we live in a world that will end, and we await a new heavens and new earth, then Peter wants us to be diligent so that we are prepared for the world to come in which righteousness dwells. The stakes are too high for negligence in the Christian life.
Peter doesn’t just encourage diligence in others. He notes that he will be diligent in fulfilling his ministry as an apostle.
And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. (2 Peter 1:15 NASB, same word as in 1:10 and 3:14, emphasis added)
It is a mistake to think we are earning our salvation. That somehow, we are attempting to outweigh our bad deeds with good ones. But it would also be a mistake to think that diligence is to be equated with the attempt to earn salvation.
Diligence is an appropriate response to faith. If I trust God, then I must believe that the things of God are of eternal consequence. God must have the first priority in my life as one seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Faith should lead me to be zealous, eager, diligent, and conscientious. Because of the worthiness of God and the eternal
1“σπουδάζω (spoudazō),” BDAG, 939. The Strong’s number for this word is G4704.