Today, I studied all 56 passages in the Book of Mormon which use some form of the word “diligent.”
To be diligent is to “[show] care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties” (Oxford English Dictionary).
The word also carries a connotation of eagerness. It comes from the Latin word diligere, which means to “esteem,” “love,” or “appreciate” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Most references to diligence in the New Testament are translations of the Greek word spoudé (σπουδή), which means “haste,” “earnestness,” or “enthusiasm.”
So when we are diligent, we fulfill our work conscientiously and eagerly because we love it and care about it.
The Book of Mormon identifies three categories of activities that we should do with diligence:
- Seek knowledge
- Keep the commandments of God
- Preach the gospel
After relating some of the teachings of his father which were hard to understand, Nephi interrupts the narrative to assure us that God is willing to answer our questions. He took his questions to the Lord in prayer because he knew that the Holy Ghost is “the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.” Nephi testifies to us: “He that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded to them, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (1 Nephi 10:17, 19).
Enos received an answer after praying “with all diligence” (Enos 1:12). Alma teaches his son something which he has “inquired diligently of God” to know (Alma 40:3, 9). Zeezrom finally begins to understand the gospel when he inquires of Alma and Amulek diligently to understand their words (Alma 12:8).
And scripture study requires diligence from us as well. King Benjamin urges his sons to study diligently (Mosiah 1:7). His grandsons become powerful missionaries by searching the scriptures diligently (Alma 17:2-3). And the Savior specifically commanded the people to search the words of Isaiah diligently (3 Nephi 23:1).
After teaching his people how to discern between good and evil, Mormon pleads with them to “search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:19).
Keep the Commandments
From the beginning of the Book of Mormon, diligence is associated with following the guidance we receive from God. The Liahona, a heavenly compass which guides the journey of Lehi’s family to the promised land, only works according to the faith and diligence of those who use it (1 Nephi 16:28-29, Mosiah 1:16, Alma 37:41), and Alma pointed out to his son Helaman that this is symbolic of the way we should treat the word of God:
These things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual (Alma 37:43).
We will receive the blessings of obedience if we obey the word of God with diligence—conscientiousness and eagerness.
Preach the Gospel
Nephi explains to us that he and others “[labored] diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God” (2 Nephi 25:23). His brother Jacob also emphasizes the effort that went into “[engraving] these words upon plates” (Jacob 4:3).
After relating the amazing missionary experiences of the sons of Mosiah, Mormon summarizes what we can learn in these words:
And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life (Alma 28:14).
Near the end of the book, Moroni quotes a letter from Mormon urging him to keep preaching in spite of the unwillingness of their people to listen:
Notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God (Moroni 9:6).
Today, I will be diligent. I will search diligently to increase my understanding. I will diligently follow the guidance I receive from God. And I will diligently teach and persuade others to follow the gospel.