Strive to Be Consistent
“CONSISTENCY, you are a jewel!” That is an expression frequently heard when someone manifests inconsistency. And since we all are imperfect, we are all likely at times to be inconsistent.
But that does not mean that we should not aim for consistency. We should, for consistency means “harmony of conduct or practice with profession; persistent adherence to moral or ethical standards in thought and action.” In other words, we should practice what we preach and should not be tempted from a course of right conduct. The Creator, Jehovah God, and his Son, Jesus Christ, are consistent and we should be imitators of them in this.—Matt. 5:48; Heb. 6:18; 13:8.
Inconsistency being a common human failing, it is not surprising to find that those who write on the subject frequently speak disparagingly of consistency. “Don’t be ‘consistent,’ but be simply true,” once said a noted American jurist. But did he have a point? Not according to the dictionary. And said another writer on the subject: “Consistency is the quality of a stagnant mind,” as if consistency ruled out progress. It does not. And wrote a popular American essayist years ago: “With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” But are not the laws of nature consistent? They are, and they are the product of the greatest Soul in the universe.—Jer. 51:14.
It may well be that some disparage consistency because they do not want to submit to its demands. Thus one historian tells that Thomas Jefferson, who by many Americans is considered to be the democratic man, the lover of freedom par excellence, apparently saw nothing inconsistent between his severe denunciations of slavery and his owning many slaves himself. Then again, although he preached that ‘error need not be feared so long as reason is free to combat it,’ yet he sought, inconsistently, to make the University of Virginia a stronghold of his Unitarian religious ideas and of his Republican political philosophy.—Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 1963.
The Bible, man’s only sure guide, does not gloss over inconsistency; it does not wink at it or condone it. Rather, throughout its pages it strongly condemns inconsistency. How bluntly Jesus, the Son of God, exposed the inconsistency of the religious leaders of his day! They claimed to be the children of Abraham but they were not doing the works of Abraham. They claimed to believe in Moses; but if they had, they would have believed also in Jesus, for Moses wrote of Jesus.—John 5:44-47; 8:39, 40.
Those men had seated themselves in Moses’ seat, teaching his law, but did they practice what they preached? No, they were inconsistent. “They say but do not perform,” Jesus declared. Further highlighting their inconsistency, Jesus said that they were straining out gnats while swallowing camels.—Matt. 23:2, 3, 24.
The apostle Paul, though a learned man, did not disparage consistency as modern learned men are prone to do. In imitation of Jesus he lashed out strongly at Jews who were guilty of inconsistency: “Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?”—Rom. 2:17, 21, 22.
Today, especially in the pulpits, there is much inconsistency. Men claim to be Christian ministers and yet they pour ridicule on the Bible accounts of creation, the flood of Noah’s day, and so forth, incidents to which Jesus Christ referred as historical. Besides, did not Jesus say, “Your word is truth”? And as far as Jesus was concerned, God’s written Word at that time consisted of the Hebrew Scriptures.—John 17:17; Matt. 19:3-6; 24:37-39.
Not that the requirement of consistency is flouted only by the clergy. There are ever so many people who loudly boast of their patriotism, making a show of it by waving and saluting flags, singing the national anthem and celebrating national holidays. However, their true colors are betrayed by their eagerness to cheat their country in the matter of paying taxes.
Then again, parents often come short in the matter of consistency in dealing with their children. They warn their children that they will be punished if they do this or that, and then the children go ahead and do it anyhow and the parent ignores the disobedience. Or a parent may punish a child for doing a certain thing one day and on another day let the child get away with it. And, most serious of all, inconsistency is shown when a parent tells a child not to lie, steal, gossip, and so forth, and then the child sees and hears the parent doing those very things.
What causes people to be inconsistent? It could be simply carelessness, or it could be selfishness—most likely it is in many cases. However, it also could be due to not having or not recognizing any firm and sound standard by which to guide oneself.
The Creator of man, Jehovah God, has provided man with a sure guide, his Word, the Bible. It was given to serve as ‘a lamp to our feet and a light to our roadway.’ It is filled with sound counsel that covers all of life’s situations and relationships. On the one hand, it shows that ‘it is Jehovah God alone to whom we must render worship,’ and, on the other hand, that ‘all the things that we want others to do to us we should do to them.’—Ps. 119:105; Matt. 22:37-39; 4:10; 7:12.
More than that, the Bible also supplies the motivation for a consistent righteous course of action. This it does by inculcating the fear of Jehovah, which means hating what is bad and which is the beginning of wisdom. To follow the course of consistency means good relations both with one’s Maker, Jehovah God, and with one’s fellowman. It brings peace of mind and happiness now and will lead to endless life in the perfect new system of things so near at hand. The requirement of consistency presents a challenge, but to the extent we meet that challenge we will be happy.