Be a Diligent Worker
Open Your Bible
2 Timothy 2:14-26, Psalm 119:9-16, Galatians 5:16-25
Recently I read an out-of-print book called “Dear Scott, Dear Max,” which chronicles the correspondence between the author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his agent, Maxwell Perkins. What starts as a discussion surrounding publication of Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise, quickly turns into a fascinating window into Fitzgerald’s inner life.
The author vacillates between illusions of grandeur and doldrums of depression. He is at times a financial success, and others at the border of bankruptcy begging Perkins for loans. He complains to his agent that he is doomed never to write anything ever again, then a few months later, reports about his play-in-progress is “the best thing I’ve ever written.” But most interesting to me is the amount of word-count Fitzgerald gives to criticizing the work and accolades of his contemporaries. Knowing that Fitzgerald was on the precipice of writing The Great Gatsby, I can’t help but read the letters and think, “If only he knew!”
At times, I wonder if our Lord Jesus Christ looks upon us with a similar compassion. What kinds of arguments, discussions, or fights about words do I get caught up in every day? To whom am I comparing myself? What doom have I assigned to myself that is not mine to carry? In what personal talents have I forfeited all hope or placed undo confidence? And what might happen in my life if I trust Paul’s words to Timothy and “present [my]self to God as one approved,” instead of constantly trying to prove myself?
The fruit of the spirit are not en vogue. Gentleness is not a quality that plays well on a screen. Patience, endurance, self-control? These are products of an inner life bathed in the light of Christ, not constantly seeking the light of the world’s affirmation and attention. And if I take those qualities with me to every conversation, every disagreement, I am no longer an armored fighter, trying to win, but a servant of the Lord, content to receive whatever outcome He deems fit. What freedom I would display in this world, if I could operate with that kind of detached optimism!
Conversations and disagreements will happen—but, if with the psalmist I can say “Lord, I am indeed your servant,” then the outcomes of those conversations are not my chief concern. My only hope is in the Lord and His mercy. From this vantage point, the world can feel like a terrifying place. But I take hope in my God, who already knows how the story ends, who whispers into my ears each day through the words: Oh, Claire, if only you knew!