by Leslie De Morais
Diligent – [dil-i-juh nt] (adj) 1. Constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student. 2. Done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.1
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands. – Proverbs 31:13 (NIV)
Wool and Flax
As many of us know, wool comes from sheep. Usually, once a year in the spring, the sheep are shorn (or sheared, depending on the dialect of the region). The wool is then spun into yarn.
What about flax? Considering the verse above, I wondered about flax, so I did some investigating. Here’s what I found out:
Flax (also known as common flax or linseed), Linum usitatissimum, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. The textile made from flax in the Western countries is known as linen. It is traditionally used for bed sheets, underclothes, and table linen. The oil is known as linseed oil. In addition to referring to the plant itself, the word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. The plant species is known only as a cultivated plant, and appears to have been domesticated just once from the wild species Linum bienne, called pale flax.2
If you have a moment, watch this short and informative three-minute video that shows how to spin flax.3
Now, getting back to the theme verse (Proverbs 31:13) of this blog post and the definition of diligent, what can we learn from the Wife of Noble Character?
What Motivates Diligence?
Imagine living in a time where you not only have to make your own clothes, and those for your family, but you also need to spin the yarn or thread for your fabric. The words time-consuming and tedious come to mind. How full would your wardrobe be if all that work were required of you? What could possibly motivate the Proverbs 31 woman to “work with eager hands?”
Only one answer stands out. She highly valued the end product much more than the long hours ahead of her. Perhaps she envisioned her children dressed in the clothes she so painstakingly made for them. Maybe she cherished the cozy touch of the brand new bed linens that she and her husband would slip into after a long day’s work. Possibly, she was imagining beautiful table linens that would make a meal special when visitors called. The end product is the inspiration that fueled her task, and diligence is what set her apart from the rest.
Consistency, persistence and perseverance are qualities we all admire. No one ever wrote a book or made a movie about the guy or girl who half way through a tough job, long journey, or daunting battle gave up! Who would want to read about that or see that movie? Yet we all love to hear about the person who stuck it out during a challenge. It gives us hope that we can do the same.
A Surprising Quote
“Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did.” 4
If this quote came from a cross-country runner, you might say, “That makes sense.” If I told you an Olympic athlete was known for making this statement, you might think it nothing out of the ordinary. How would you feel about that quote if you now discovered it came from a man who spent most of his adult life in political and ethical struggles against racism and injustice?
For most of us, we practice a sport, play an instrument or indulge in a hobby because we have a natural inclination or talent for it. In Nelson Mandela’s case, he had neither when it came to cross-country running. He got through his task by harnessing diligence. Certainly, this discipline gave him the strength and hope to endure the 27 years he spent in prison for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.
Diligent Wives Get What they Want…Eventually
How does a wife benefit from being diligent? There’s a Brazilian saying, “Quem casa, quer casa.” Translation: “The one who marries wants a home.” We’d all love to have an unlimited budget to buy our dream home and decorate it with the finest furnishings. Personally, I have yet to meet a woman in those ideal circumstances. Diligence is the stuff that fuels dreams, little by little.
Consider these verses:
Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth. – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)
A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)
It’s easy to sit around dreaming or worse, complaining because you don’t have what you want (be it a beautiful home, higher education, an amazing marriage or closeness to God). It takes diligence to bring those desires of the heart into reality.
My husband is a smart and capable man. He has accomplished many difficult undertakings in his life, such as: completing his college education, becoming fluent in a second language, moving to new countries and adapting to unfamiliar cultures, navigating the challenges of raising two teenagers successfully, relocating and beginning new careers several times and going for his master’s degree at age 50. Not to mention becoming a Christian and not wavering in his decision for over 30 years. Obviously, he is grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings he has received. However, to what personal characteristic does Alcides attribute his success? Diligence. He doesn’t consider himself extremely intelligent or unusually gifted. He understands the benefit of staying the course even when it gets hard and when giving up would be much more comfortable.
Diligent Wives Remove Obstacles
William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.
A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.5
Like Mandela, William Penn was imprisoned for his idealism. You might think an ordeal like that would dampen his fervor or soften his convictions. Yet Penn was known for this statement:
Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains. – William Penn
What are the obstacles you need to remove in your life?
- Do you have a home in desperate need of organization and order?
- Are there personal goals you’d like to reach but procrastination and excuses have paralyzed you?
- Is your husband not yet a Christian and your faith that he’ll become one is dwindling?
- Does your husband lack the spiritual leadership for your family that you would like him to have and you’ve given up on being the helpmate he needs?
Do you have what it takes to remove these obstacles from your heart and mind? Patient diligence (in prayer, faith, and actions) is what’s required.
Diligent Wives are Wholehearted
In the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages and exhorts the young evangelist about some of a pastor’s worst fears. He warns Timothy that some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons! Paul then cautions Timothy to:
- Be a good minister
- Have nothing to do with godless myths or old wives tales
- Train himself to be godly
- Put his hope in God
- Command and teach these things to others
- Not let anyone look down on him because of his youth
- Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
- Not neglect his gift of preaching and teaching
Paul ends the chapter by giving Timothy the key to his future success.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)
Wholehearted diligence and perseverance. Timothy had a mountain to move and Paul set him up for victory.
Whatever mountains you may need to move, whatever your past track record has been, imitating the diligence of the Proverbs 31 Wife of Noble Character will certainly get you closer than ever to making your goals and dreams reality.
3 Spinning Flax with Christine MacCleod – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az2VNllZhEE