The fourth in our series on the Christian virtues, the antidote to the seven deadly sins.

The opposite of sloth is diligence. To be diligent is to persist and to be industrious and to see projects through to completion. Again, it applies outside the obvious sphere. Most people when hearing the word ‘diligent’ will immediately think of the working world, but the beauty of the virtues is that they are applicable to most situations.

The man who plans a successful first date is diligent; so too is the woman who makes the effort for her 25th anniversary. When it comes to relationships, the view is often woolly and romantic: love strikes you out of the blue and then sustains itself. Our lovebirds are in a state of rapture for the rest of their lives as they ride off into the sunset.

Of course, the reality is that relationships require work – as do friendships, and all other form of human relations – but the divorce rates in this country suggest many people have forgotten that.

An excellent example of a diligent person, of someone who was industrious and hardworking, is Sara Rowbotham, the sexual health worker who worked tirelessly to expose the Rotherham rape gangs.

Whilst the authorities were happy to turn a blind eye to the industrial levels of sexual abuse of minors, Rowbotham loudly and incessantly drew attention to the disgusting abuse being carried out.

From 2004 onwards she made 100 referrals to the police and social services even though the girls were dismissed as unreliable witnesses. Rowbotham wasn’t deterred by the seemingly deliberate apathy and pressed on until the horror was eventually brought into the light.

It would have been easier for Rowbotham to leave the issue alone and seek the easy life, but she showed admirable diligence in sticking to her task. She is one of the very few people from that shameful episode who can carry herself with pride.

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