The salads confused me.
The first one was amazing: an orchard salad with green applies and candied walnuts and bacon and a delicious vinaigrette. It was perfect, one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten. The second time I ate it the salad was the same in name, but mildly disappointing: much less of the vinaigrette, next to no bacon, and too few candied walnuts. The third was wonderful again; the fourth somehow had chicken in it.
I love my orchard salad. I have learned over time that the best way to get it the way I want it is to go before the lunch rush. And yet I somehow wish it was simply the same salad every time. That’s the value of consistency: sometimes it’s good to know that certain things are going to remain the same over time, that you can depend on them no matter what.
Consistency is good in the Christian life, too. In fact, I’d argue it is an act of love.
If you are somehow who consistently shows up when you say you will, who consistently checks on people, who consistently shows care, who consistently contributes, then you are the kind of person others value and rely upon. Your love is shown by your dependability, your willingness to be there for people – not just once, but in all the times that it counts.
Nothing can harm a relationship quite like a lack of consistency. Children benefit from consistent parents. A marriage benefits from consistent shows of commitment and care. Friendships benefit from consistent, reciprocal effort and concern. Our ministry to other believers and to non-believers depends a lot on our faithfulness: are we willing to show up not just once, but continually?
When we are consistent, we show people that they matter. We show people that we won’t just disappear or stop showing up or stop loving them. We show people that we’re not just there for the good times or the bad times, but that we’re all in for both. That means a lot to both believers and non-believers. In our consistency, we can show a little bit of the character of our God: a steady foundation, ever-present, always reliable.
The opposite of consistency? Unreliability. Flakiness. Running hot and cold. Disappearing and reappearing. Unfortunately, I’m willing to bet that many of us are more inconsistent than consistent. We call…but only sometimes, especially if something bad happens. We show up for events…but usually every blue moon, when our schedule allows. We keep up friendships… but only sporadically, depending on what we need or want that day.
But sporadic, occasional, and infrequent don’t cut it when it comes to ministry, service, or love.
Here’s the kicker: it’s no fun being the consistent one. In fact, the complaint I hear most from consistent people is how inconsistent everyone else is. And it’s true! When you are the one who shows up, who is reliable, who is perpetually present, who is dependable, you get so tired of dealing with people who are not any of those things. You think to yourself, resentfully, “Well, if I’m the one who always has to show up in order to make this friendship work, I might as well stop showing up just to see what happens.”
But that’s not what Christ has called us to do. We aren’t consistent and faithful because other people are or aren’t; we’re consistent and faithful, or we should try to be, because He was.
In what areas of your life are you fundamentally inconsistent? In what ways can you improve to reveal a little bit of God’s steadiness, consistency, and dependability in your own actions?