Philippians 1:27 “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Authors are often held to a particular level of scrutiny when it comes to developing characters within their storyline. If a lead character within their story is represented as a man who embodies a certain Sean Connery style, in other words, a somewhat mysterious intellectual who is always one step ahead of the competition, then it would be inconsistent to characterize him as a careless buffoon in later chapters. The readers of such a story would be confused as to what caused the change and would wonder what happened to their hero who seemed to embody traits that were so admirable one moment and repulsive the next.
Not unlike the hero of an adventurous novel, we too have an expectation of consistency within our story.
Who you may ask is reading your story?
The answer is…..everyone.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The expectation of God’s people is an honor that extends much broader than many may think. As a father of four children who are now adults, I was reminded through the years of the importance of consistent character. The biblical ideals I tried to instill in my children were only as substantial as the level in which I practiced them.
Practice what you Preach
If you’ve heard the saying, “practice what you preach”, then you’ve heard the biting criticism of those who recognize inconsistency of character. It’s one thing to teach your children the values of God’s Word, it’s quite another to live those values out before them. If I instruct my kids to be patient, then I need to exhibit patience in my own life. I’m illustrating this point because of my lack of patience when driving behind slow drivers. I never minded erratic drivers nor did it bother me when someone showed carelessness when controlling their vehicle, but when I got stuck behind someone who didn’t seem to care if they arrived at their destination on time or not, then I could feel the anxiety swell and the tension increase substantially with every methodically driven mile. I still feel the tension today but I’ve had to practice changing my mindset when I get behind the wheel. If my focus is on the frustration, then I can become so caught up in the moment and lose track of who I represent in my life and how I want to influence others.
1 Peter 2:11-12 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
The Careless Buffoon
The apostle Peter understood the need for upholding the values that Jesus taught him. He seemed to show the greatest level of growth of all the disciples whom Jesus called to follow. One moment Peter is stepping out on the water with Jesus, then next moment he is sinking in fear. One moment Peter is with Jesus in the garden in prayer, the next moment he is wielding a sword. One moment Peter is exclaiming to Jesus that he will follow him until death, the next moment he is denying Jesus three times.
Personally, I can relate to Peter. My life seems to be consistently inconsistent. In the heart world, this pattern is displayed by the ECG pattern of atrial fibrillation. The disrupted rhythm occurs because of the unpredictable conduction of disordered impulses across the electrical bridge, called the atrioventricular (AV) node, to the lower cardiac chambers (ventricles). Known to have a regularly irregular pattern of conductivity, atrial fibrillation is a practical example of inconsistent character. The man or woman who one moment lives like a follower of Christ and the next moment lives like the world, is as irregular as a twitching right atrium that seems to be caught in an almost paralyzed state of function.
One way we get people out of atrial fibrillation is to apply a large dose of energy to their heart, the energy shocks their system and places it into a reset mode with hopes that a normal electrical conduction will occur.
The Hero of the Story
Revelation 12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”
If your caught up in a pattern of life that seems to hold you captive and you find yourself struggling to grow, there is a good chance your lacking the power necessary to move on.
Jesus is that Power.
If we attempt to get by on our own strength and power, we will quickly realize it is inadequate. Our own source of strength is simply unreliable.
My brothers in Africa and Pakistan are always so frustrated by their power going out on a regular basis. It becomes such a problem that they have to plan around the outages.
Like a bad power grid, our ability to sustain a consistent strength of character is as inconsistent as a corrupt system. We have far too much going against us to show forth a quality that only Jesus can fulfill.
Psalm 29:11 “The LORD gives His people strength; the LORD blesses His people with peace.”
If I want to be found faithful, I must stay plugged into the source of my strength. The way I stay plugged in is by spending time with the Lord, in prayer, in fellowship with other believers, and in His Word.
I find that the consistency of God’s redeeming power is how I can exhibit consistency of character in my life.
What are you plugged into each day?
If your answer is Jesus, then you’ll see the fruit of your labor and be rewarded.