Consistency

Standard

Consistency.  It makes life manageable and gravy good.  It is desirable, envied even.  Everyone wants consistency, positive consistency, from their spouse, boss, friends, their favorite restaurant. 

Consistency has been on my mind a lot lately, probably because The Terrible Two’s are banging on my door—as well as throwing tantrums, hitting things and biting.  My son will be two at the end of March but The Battle of The Two’s has already ensued.  Having won this war once before with my daughter, I’ve learned consistency is the only dependable weapon for combat.

As a parent, consistency is important for many reasons.  Most importantly, it keeps us moms sane and with hair on our heads.  For children, a consistent routine fosters security, sets standards, provides cues and creates expectations:  A consistent bedtime routine signals it’s time to wind down; consistent discipline and correction reinforces the standard for appropriate behavior; regular eating patterns develop a positive attitude toward nutrition… I could go on.  The point is consistency just makes life easier to navigate, no matter what our age.

Pastor Alistair Begg recently said, “The appeal for commitment and consistency is what it will do for us.”  So true.  So selfishly true.  In his sermon, “Stay the Course,” Begg teaches on this idea of consistency by focusing on the life of Daniel.  He calculates that Daniel was probably in his late seventies or early eighties when he was thrown into the lion’s den—he wasn’t the young man our kid-friendly picture Bibles portray.  He had lived in Babylon since his teens and was loyal to the government and laws there.  But Daniel had also been constant and intentional in his relationship with the One True God.  His consistency, as we know, was about to pay off.

In Daniel chapter 6, we see that he had risen to the top of his game as a government leader because of his “exceptional qualities” (v3) and was up for a huge promotion.  Like, second-in-command kind of promotion.  This made the other leaders crazy-jealous, so they began to search for something in Daniel’s life to charge him with before the king.  The problem?  They couldn’t find anything.  Nothing.  Daniel was “faithful and honest and made no mistakes” (v4).  So, what’s a dirty politician to do?  Mess with Daniel’s religion.

They decided to go to the king and suck-up a bit, get him all buttered-up by filling his head with thoughts of his own greatness.  You know, the way most powerful political leaders are swayed.  They say, “We [all the government leaders, including Daniel] have unanimously decided that you should make a law, irrevocable under any circumstance, that for the next thirty days anyone who asks a favor of [aka prays to] God or man—except from you, Your Majesty—shall be thrown to the lions” (v7).

Have you ever wondered why they came up with this specific plan?  Why would prayer be the ideal way to trap Daniel?  How did they know they could catch him praying?

Because Daniel was consistent.

In verse 10 after Daniel learns of the decree, “he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs bedroom with its windows open toward Jerusalem, and prayed three times a day, just as he always had, giving thanks to his God.”

Did you catch that? Daniel went home as usual and had his prayer time just as he always did.  Hearing of the edict didn’t cause him to start praying, he was simply being consistent in his existing prayer routine.  He was constant in his walk with The Lord, not out of defiance to some law or edict, but because of his love for God.

And Daniel made no apologies for his relationship with God; he wasn’t politically correct when it came to his religion.  Everyone—everyone—knew Daniel worshiped and served the God of Israel, not because he was boastful but because he was faithful.  As he was ordered into the lion’s den, even the king recognized Daniel’s consistency, “May your God, who you worship continually, deliver you” (v16).  Again, in verse 20 the king asks, “Daniel, servant of The Living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Hearing this story since childhood, I always thought of the king’s words here to be a bit defiant, like he was calling God out and taunting Daniel.  But that’s not what he was doing at all.  The king loved Daniel; he was his most favored employee.  When the other so-called loyal advisers told the king of Daniel’s praying, “The king was very angry with himself for signing the law and determined to save Daniel” (v14).  The king did not want to throw Daniel to the lions, he wanted to save him!  But, he couldn’t.  Ironically, the king also had to be consistent.  He had to follow through with what he said he would do, regardless of who it hurt, or else his power would be questioned and his words would become empty threats.

 But here’s the coolest thing:  Daniel’s consistency gave the king hope.

While the king wasn’t fully sold on Daniel’s God just yet, he seems to hold on to hope.  …Maybe, just maybe, if Daniel’s God is real, He will save him since I can’t…  The king literally threw Daniel to the lions and hoped that, somehow this God would save him.  “May your God…deliver you…Was your God…able to rescue you?” (v16, 20). 

The king was so distraught, he refused to eat or be entertained and he didn’t sleep.  (Sounds like he fasted.)  He desperately wanted Daniel to survive, not just because he loved him, but because he wanted to believe in a power greater than his own.  I think the king wanted to be saved, himself.  In his heart, he wanted to know he wasn’t The End-All-Be-All because he knew he was a self-serving scoundrel.  He knew he wasn’t the almighty, righteous authority those scheming advisers claimed he was.  He was a sinful, faulty man in desperate need of a Savior.

This is not the Sunday School lesson I learned as a kid; it’s much, much more.  I now see how God can save me from the lions of selfishness, distraction and laziness.  Like Daniel, I want to be consistent in every area of my life and character, not just for my own well-being but for the glory of God and the benefit of everyone around me.  When I am committed to being consistent in love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control—The Fruits of the Spirit—it encourages others to put their hope in The One True God.  God can use my consistency to extend grace and salvation to a searching soul—in my home, my neighborhood, my church, my workplace.  I want people to know what they can expect from me and that they can count on me, and in that, they can know and count on Jesus as well.

You may be thinking, “This all sounds great, Jessie, but just how do we do this?  How do we become consistent in this ever-changing world?”  While my own inconsistencies prove I’m certainly no expert, I think we could begin by accepting these truths…

Consistency is established by God.

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”

~Psalm 90:2

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and Your dominion endures through all generations.  The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does.” 

~ Psalm 145:13

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.”

~ Isaiah 40:28

“When God wanted to guarantee His promises, He gave His word, a rock-solid guarantee—God cannot break His word.  And because His word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.”

~ Hebrews 6:17 (The Message)

 Consistency is achieved in Him.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.  I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

~John 15:9-12

“But the eyes of the Lord are watching over those who fear him, who rely upon his steady love.  He will keep them from death even in times of famine!  We depend upon the Lord alone to save us.  Only he can help us; He protects us like a shield.  No wonder we are happy in the Lord! For we are trusting him.  We trust his holy name.  Yes, Lord, let your constant love surround us, for our hopes are in you alone.”

Psalms 33:18-22 (Living Bible)

Consistency is intentional.

“For the eyes of The Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

~ 2 Chronicles 16:9

“Every morning tell Him, ‘Thank You for Your kindness,’ and every evening rejoice in all His faithfulness.”

~ Psalm 92:2

“God wants the combination of His steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus.”

~ Romans 15:5-6 (The Message)

 

While I strive for consistency, the truth is I will never be consistently consistent, at least, not in my own power.  As my daughter prayed on the way to school this week she said, “Jesus, please forgive me because sometimes I forget to do things.”  Even she gets it.  You and I cannot consistently keep up with the rhythm of life.  We’re human.  We get sick.  We get tired and our bodies require rest.  But take heart:  God never grows weary; He never sleeps.  Though times and trends and theories may change, God never changes and He will never leave us behind.  He is right where we are; tired, sick, poor, behind.  He’s in the middle of it all, providing the consistent and constant stability our hearts so desperately desire.  

I heard a practical idea from Dr. David Jeremiah this week.  He suggested taking each day of the week to focus on one of The Beatitudes.  I’m going to tweak that a bit and focus on one Fruit of the Spirit a day.  There are nine of them, so each week will look different, but it will go something like this: 

  • Monday—seek to be Loving
  • Tuesday—look for Joy in everything
  •  Wednesday—be at Peace
  • Thursday—respond with Patience
  • Friday—be Kind
  • Saturday—do something Good
  • Sunday—be Faithful
  • Monday— treat others with Gentleness
  • Tuesday— have Self-Control

Obviously, this list isn’t doable without the help of The Holy Spirit, or else it wouldn’t be called The Fruits of The Spirit.  We are not capable of living this sort of daily life if we rely on ourselves.  It’s just not humanly possible.  Aldous Huxley said, “Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life.  The only completely consistent people are dead.”  So when you fall out of your routine, don’t worry; God will never fall out of His. He doesn’t miss a beat, not even of your heart.  He sees you.  He knows where you are and He wants to help you get back on track.  It’s the attitude of your heart that matters, not the perfection of your actions (1 Samuel 16:7). 

 

Heavenly Father, may Your constant love and consistent nature make itself at home in my heart, that You may be glorified.  I love you.

Jessie

 

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