BE CONSISTENT

Bible Reading: John 7:16-24

One of the characteristics that will most attract people to Jesus is a life that is consistently righteous, kind and full of love.

Jesus challenged the religious leaders on the basis of their inconsistency. They followed God’s commandment through Moses and circumcised each male child on his eighth day [Leviticus 12:3]. If the eighth day of the child’s life fell on the Sabbath, then the child was circumcised on the Sabbath in order that the Law of Moses should not be broken. It was perfectly acceptable to do that, and Jesus is not critical of them. However, He is critical of them because of their anger towards Him because he healed a man on the Sabbath. He is almost certainly referring to the man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been infirmed for thirty-eight years [John 5:1-9]. What is the difference between them circumcising a young child on the Sabbath and Him healing an infirmed man on the Sabbath?

Consistency means that we live a life that is single-minded and without hypocrisy. It means that the way we live and the words we speak do not conflict. If we say, “Yes,” then we mean, “Yes,” and if we say “No.” then we mean, “No.” It means that if we say that we have faith, then we prove it by our actions. If our actions contradict our words then we are inconsistent, our testimony is damaged, and people would find it difficult to trust us. To live a life of pretence and say that we are trusting Jesus is to be totally inconsistent.

The great missionary to China, Isobel Kuhn, spoke of her Christian life before she fully surrendered to God, in the words of an old hymn:

Once I thought I walked with Jesus,

                         Yet such changeful feelings had;

                         Sometimes trusting, sometimes doubting,

                         Sometimes joyful, sometimes sad.”

It was a life of inconsistency, but as she surrendered everything to Jesus she spoke of trusting Him and a peace that she had never really known before.

When we lived in Indonesia I once saw a man standing on two rowing boats. He had one foot on one boat and the other foot on the other boat. The problem was that the two boats were only tied together at one end. They gradually moved apart and he fell between the two boats and into the water. It was humorous but a good picture of someone living a double life.

God is a God of consistency and He expects us to be consistent in the way we live.

Questions:

In what way is God totally consistent?

Why are inconsistencies in a person’s life a hindrance to Christian testimony? In what way are hypocrisy and double-mindedness pictures of inconsistency?

Can you identify personally to the testimony of Isobel Kuhn in the way that she lived her Christian life before she fully surrendered to Jesus?

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

Bible Reading: John 7:24; Isaiah 11:1-5

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment

[John 7:24]

I have a book in my library that I treasure but although the cover is most off-putting its contents are pure gold! The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” means that you should not decide upon something based just on outward appearance. Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with a righteous judgment.”

In Christian ministry I have noticed over the years that the people who promised the most often disappointed the most, but the people who I thought might not succeed often did outstandingly well. The danger is that we look at only natural ability but the issue is far deeper than that.

Saul, the first King of Israel, was handsome, capable, wealthy and a warrior, as well as prophesying among the prophets. He seemed all that a king should be, but inwardly, he had low esteemed, and failed to deal with negative issues in his heart. Instead, he became rebellious, disobeyed God, told lies, was jealous of anyone else who succeeded, and an evil spirit came upon him. Tragically, he sought the guidance of a witch and died on the battlefield by committing suicide. This remarkable and sad story is found in First Samuel. He looked good on the outside, but on the inside was a spiritual minefield.

When Samuel went to the home of Jesse to anoint the new king of Israel, there were seven sons of Jesse presented to him. Not one of them was the right man. The Lord said to Samuel, “… the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”

[1 Samuel 16:7]. The youngest son of Jesse was absent, and Samuel told Jesse to send for him. Immediately Samuel saw David, the rejected son sent to look after sheep, he knew that this was the man to be anointed as king!

As a young Christian we used to laugh at a man in the church who always appeared long-faced and grumpy. We used to call him “Old Grumps.’” One day he invited me to his home for afternoon tea. I was amazed at the way he cared for his wife. She was completely helpless as a result of several strokes and couldn’t speak. “Old Grumps” told me that he got her up in the morning, bathed her, fed her, sat her by the window, talked with her, fed her again, and at night time put her to bed. As young people we had judged this man by his outward appearance, but I never called him “Old Grumps” again!

Questions:

Why is the inward heart of a man more important than his outward appearance? Is there anyone that you have wrongly judged in this way?

What does Isaiah 11:4 say about the way in which Jesus, the Messiah, would judge people?

Read Matthew 7:1-6. Does Jesus contradict Himself when telling us not to judge others, but that we should not judge according to outward appearance?