Character Trait No. 9
Definition: Not wavering from God’s principles.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” I Cor. 15:58
Steadfast is the old English word for consistent. Achieving God’s ends (goals) by God’s means (ways) in every situation also describes a consistent person’s modus operandi. No “kalabule”* shortcuts via the blackmarket of unethical conduct for the Mr. Consistent. Holding onto principles even when under tremendous pressure to compromise- gives one a consistent character. This type of guy remains the same in any and every environment, always doing things God’s way ...or not at all. He is certainly not a Sunday morning Christian and a pagan on Monday morning. On the other hand, circumstances always dictate the behavior of Mr. Chameleon, or the inconsistent man. He foolishly pontificates:
“Religion works fine for Sunday School teachers in church, but in the real world things run differently. It’s a jungle out there, you know, and only the strongest survive.”
(So Jesus, Creator of all things, the Author of all reality wasn’t a realist? And when is the church “in church”. I might add.)
It’s hard to find a man of integrity or principle these days. Just try to seal a business deal with a handshake! In the brave new world of Bill Clinton, there are no more fatal flaws in anyone’s character – just “mistakes” made by otherwise wonderful persons under stress and stain. His defense in the horrendous Monica Lewinsky affair was that he was otherwise an excellent President with only a “sexual problem”. In other words, one supposedly can pick and choose which godly principles or values one wants to have and which to reject. A single flaw in person’s character doesn’t mean that his entire character is bad, does it? Well, that partially depends on how much authority or responsibility that person has. The hot dog seller at the ballpark might not cause as much harm as the president of the most powerful nation on earth, you think? (But would the hot dog seller’s wife allow a Lewinsky situation without killing him? That might just be the fatal flaw in his life!)
Who gets hurt by our inconsistency? Our wives? Children? Our parents? The local congregation with which we assemble? Cannot we grieve the Holy Spirit? Does God get hurt feelings? You know the answers to these questions. The proverbial “fly in the ointment” illustrates this fact. Also the little crack in the dyke eventually leads to a complete meltdown and catastrophic flooding and disaster. One sin unrepented of will condemn us to the unquenchable fires of hell. (Just read Matt.18:8-9) So being consistent really counts – for eternity. Abundant grace is provided for sincere truth seekers honestly repenting of their inconsistencies and using the power of the Holy Spirit to progressively overcome.
Some people mistakenly believe that feeling sorry for a sin equals true repentance and that this allows God to graciously overlook that offense. NOT! Read what scripture teaches about repentance. (II Cor.7) Repentance is a change of heart that leads to a change of behavior. Crocodile tears of remorse without changing our “crocodilian” ways are only a pretense of repentance. The word for this is hypocrisy, plain and simple. Having a dual standard is when one lives by two sets of principles – usually one for the public and the other for the private life of the individual. Such separation is actually impossible in the end. Remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? In a lifeboat, such a guy will explain to his comrade how, “We’re all together in this, and we’ll pull through this by teamwork, so we’ve got to ration everything carefully”. Then when the water runs low, he’ll push his sleeping buddy overboard.
Consider the example of Joseph as compared to Clinton. Whether a shepherd or slave, a prisoner or Prime Minister, he was the same God-fearing man. He wasn’t just a good financial manager of Potiphar’s property but at the same time also a misuser of his wife. He was consistently righteous. Someone steadfast in Christ maintains Biblical values even when they’re not expedient. Threatened job security, family opposition, even death threats like my co-worker K.K has endured – all these will not move such a man from following Christ – even to the gates of hell! He is like a rock - boring but reliably predictable to weather every storm. Like the Energizer Bunny, Mr. Consistent just keeps going and going. He delivers in hail, snow or rain, as the old Postal Service ad proudly boasted.
Have you sometimes acted like a “yo-yo Christian”, as unpredictable as Scottish weather, or are you a Rock of Gibraltar? Or perhaps more likely somewhere in between? Take heart, brother by considering Peter. Peter was named “Stone” or “Rocky” by Christ because he saw the potential in Simon before Peter knew he had it in him. If anyone was predictably unpredictable, it was ol’ Pete before the Holy Spirit got a hold of him on Pentecost. Then Christ within strengthened him with all power and Peter’s spiritual feet got set in the rigid cement of his faith in Christ. He became a rock of consistency and a pillar and foundation stone in Christ’s church.
Likewise, Christ’s spirit in you can solidify and strengthen your will in the inner man so that you can be velvet on the outside but hardened steel on the inside. With clenched jaw, bulging eyes and an iron death-grip, your spiritual fingers can grasp onto God’s unchanging Word in a changing world. And nothing in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth will be able to force you to do wrong against the One who died for your sins.
Finally remember that what you positively do daily is the key to consistency, not what you don’t do. In other word, consistency is not mainly a matter of just avoiding what is sinful. Here’s what you must concentrate on:
- Consistent reading and memorization of reading the entire Bible.
- Assembling with the saints at every opportunity.
- Sharing God’s word in personal Bible studies to win the lost and edify the saints.
- Prayer. Pray through the Bible, and keep a journal. Write down prayers, and rely heavily on the Psalms for inspiration in developing a deeper and higher prayer life.
Keep a record somehow of your progress in all these things. Our family has a chart on the wall in the dining room, and we check them off daily.
Be someone Christ can always count on – BE CONSISTENT, Christian!