Do you have something that you are so passionate about that it keeps you up late at night? Is there a question that is always in the back of your mind? I know for me, I’ve always been haunted by Judges 2:10, which states;
“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel.”-Judges 2:10
What happened? How could a generation before “know the Lord” and the next not? I believe there are three key insights on why the generation before dropped the ball for the next generation and how we can learn not to repeat the same mistake. Here is this week’s second insight. I encourage you to read last week’s post before you read this one.
2.) Inconsistent Faith
The definition of consistent is “acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.” To be inconsistent means to “act at variance with one’s own principles or former conduct.” One of the major concerns of the Christian faith today is the lack of consistency by those who proclaim to be Christ followers. This isn’t a new issue. In fact, you can read the entire bible and see when inconsistent actions came into play. What were the results of those inconsistent actions? Sin. Those who acted inconsistently in their faith ended up taking actions into their own hands and upsetting God. Joshua recognized this as he observed those around him, and during his final moments of life, Joshua warns the people of their inconsistency.
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”-Joshua 24:14-15 ESV
In the verses prior, Joshua is reminding the people of the works the Lord did through their fathers. After reminding the people of their history, Joshua makes a strong proclamation for the people to choose between serving the living God or the other gods. Joshua recognizes their inconsistent behaviors of switching from one “god” to another. The people respond to Joshua’s plea;
“Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”-24:16-18 ESV
The people respond “Joshua we will serve the Lord!” Joshua, however, isn’t buying. Look at verse 19;
“But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.”-Joshua 24:19-20 ESV
When I first read this verse, I was troubled by it. I thought “Joshua, they just said they will serve the Lord, yet you are saying they can’t? What’s up with that?!” To understand what Joshua is saying, you have to dig deeper into the text. Remember the begging of verse 14? No. Let’s re-read it;
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. “-Joshua 24:14 ESV
There are two key words in that verse, sincerity and faithfulness. The reason Joshua says “You can’t serve the Lord” is because we can serve the Lord with just our lips. If we are proclaiming to be Christians, we must serve the Lord with a sincere and faithful heart. How do we do that? By being obedient to Him on a consistent basis. Not just on the good days, but on the stormy days as well.
Why do we struggle with consistent faith? I believe it’s because we don’t believe our God is a consistent God. Why do we believe God isn’t consistent? Because we don’t take the time to understand the character and nature of God. We’ve forgotten the sovereignty of the Lord. We tend to believe He is sleeping at the wheel or is blindsided by the events in our lives. None of that is true. To believe God isn’t in control puts limits on God. If that’s you, I encourage you to read Mark 4:35-5:1, where you will see that Jesus is always in control and that His words are trustworthy.
Why is it important for us to stay consistent in our faith? Just like I said last week, there are people watching. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” If our children see our inconsistencies, they will act inconsistent or worse, not serve the Lord at all. Why would they serve someone we view as inconsistent? I know that is what deterred me from God. I saw the inconsistency around me and thought “well, they don’t trust Him, so I won’t either.” I’m grateful that the grace of God revealed to me that Jesus is trustworthy and is consistent in all His ways. What does a consistent life in Christ look like? I encourage you to read the book of Ephesians where the apostle Paul provides the vision and actions we need to take to live a consistent life in Jesus Christ. If we are going to proclaim Christ as our Lord and Savior, I pray our lives consistently reflect Him, and not just flattery lip service.