What is the difference between consistent and flakey?
Perhaps you’re saying to yourself that consistent is showing up every day and flakey is bailing out every other day. Consistent means producing the same quality every time and flakey means you never know what you’re going to get. One word means reliable and one word means unreliable.
It seems like this question has a pretty straightforward answer. However, let me pose a hypothetical scenario where the distinction blurs.
What if a child grew up being told someone important was being consistent, but that person acted flakey? The words said one thing and the action said another, how is a child to know the difference? That child might grow up thinking the word consistent meant flakey, therefore possessing a false understanding of the word. Which blurred the concept of consistency.
Let’s take this a bit further. This child, now grown, encounters church and hears about how God is so consistent and trustworthy. Inside, this person might struggle to see the truth in that message. In their understanding consistent isn’t necessarily trustworthy, so if God is consistent is He trustworthy? In this person’s understanding consistent means flakey and if God is consistent He must be flakey.
What caused all this confusion? I believe it to be selective priority. What I mean is that something is a priority until something else comes along. For example, someone might say, “I’m on a strict no wheat, no sugar diet.” Until that person arrives at the airport for a work trip and smells Cinnabon working their magic somewhere in the terminal. Or, someone says, “I’m getting up a 5 to get my devotional time and workout in before the day gets going!” Until Its 5 a.m. three days later, then they’re saying to themselves, “God loves me either way, and I’ll live with the extra 5lbs.” These are fairly inconsequential examples but you get my drift. This sort of approach in the unimportant often follows us into the important.
Selective priority creates verbal consistency but actual flakey-ness.
In my experience people’s words and actions rarely line up with each other. I can’t trust the experiential definitions for language that I’ve acquired over the years. The older I get the more I realize I don’t know what I thought I knew. On top of which, I don’t know what people mean when they say half the stuff they say. This confusion often transfers over to my relationship with God.
There have been many times when I struggled to trust God, but when I got down to the bottom of the struggle through study and prayer it turned out the bible is true, God is who He said He is. It was me who misunderstood the concepts used to reveal who God is. Concepts like consistency.
I’ve spent some time thinking about consistency. This was definitely one of the words I thought I knew, but didn’t. Honestly, my kids taught me what consistency means. Because that is what they needed from me and I had to become a consistent person for them, no matter what. The funny thing is it took me years to realize that my actions went with the word consistent. I learned the actions before I learned the term for my actions.
As Mom, I have to get up. Every day. I can’t roll over and get up later, or get up tomorrow. The kids are there, they’re small, and if I don’t get up and feed them they will destroy my kitchen in efforts that will ultimately end with the problem of hunger unsolved. I have to wash their clothes. If I don’t they will run out of clean things to wear and either remain clothed but increasingly stinky or go full on birthday suit (depending on the kid). If I don’t do the Mom things, no one will, and chaos will ensue.
I have to show up every day. I have to clean. I have to make the same bread the same way with the same ingredients every week, or there will be hunger strikes. I have to be consistent. I had to be Mom yesterday, I have to be Mom today, and I will have to be Mom tomorrow.
In the Psalms we see how God is consistent, “I said, ‘O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.” (Psalm 102: 24-27 NKJV) God was at the beginning, He created the beginning. God set creation in motion, and remained involved, creating change as needed. God has shown up every day for us since the beginning of days and He will endure forever, showing up without end.
This Psalm is the same one referenced in Hebrews 1:10-12 to establish Christ’s authority. The author of Hebrews spends a good amount of ink telling us to consider what has been spoken by God, Jesus, and now those teaching what Jesus spoke. The author basically says that God is consistent, His Word is consistent. Therefore the word spoken by teachers of the Word had better be consistent with God and all the history of God leading up to Jesus, aka the Word.
We, the listeners, are not off the hook. We need to be consistent as followers. Our life must line up with the Word, and our salvation taken to heart. Our faith is compared to that of the angels who did not fall with the fall of Satan. It is compared to Jesus, who was and is faithful. It is compared to the heroes of faith listed in chapter 11: Abel, Enoch, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel.
The author concludes by telling us to remember those before us, remember the word given to us through the Word, and that all of this consistency can be trusted because, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) We’re also warned not to be tricked by false teaching, but to use what we know about Jesus, who is always the same, as a test. If we come across teaching that is inconsistent with Jesus, it is false and not to be trusted.
So I now encourage you to take some time to re-discover what consistency actually means, what it looks like in action. I think over the course of your journey with consistency, you will discover that a consistent God is a reliable God you can trust.
Abel – Genesis 4:1-15
Enoch – Genesis 5:18-25
Abraham and Sarah – Genesis 11:27-25:11
Moses – Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Rahab – Joshua 2, 6, Matthew 1:5
Gideon – Judges 6-8
Barak – Judges 4
Samson – Judges 13-16
Jephthah – Judges 11-12
David – 1 Samuel 16-1 Kings 2:12
Samuel – 1 Samuel 1-25