Like most of the systems in our cars, a tiny icon on the dashboard is all we see of our car’s cooling system—a thermometer-looking icon with an H (Hot) at the top and a C (Cold) at the bottom and a line right in the middle that means “Just Right” (the Goldilocks approach to auto diagnostics: not too hot, not too cold, but just right).
Think about this: The water in the car radiator has to be cool enough to keep the engine from overheating, but hot enough to generate heat for the car’s heater to keep us warm in winter. And there is a complex system of checks and balances that allows that to happen: the car’s thermostat, adding coolant (antifreeze) to the water, the spring-loaded radiator cap, and the radiator fan that draws air through the radiator to cool the circulating water. I’m so amazed that smart people have figured out a way to keep our car’s water at around 190 degrees Fahrenheit—not too hot and not too cold, but just right.
If the water overheats, the engine boils over with billowing clouds of steam. And if it gets too hot due to a lack of water, the engine parts can literally melt together so the engine “freezes up.” And an engine that’s too cool will fail to heat up the engine’s lubricating oil creating more friction and wear, leading to poor gas mileage.
I think you get the point: Consistency is the key when it comes to your car’s water temperature and cooling system.
Consistency: The Key to Life
As children, we learned one of Aesop’s fables about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise won the race because he plodded, step by step, toward the finish line, while the hare napped and ate, confident he could catch the tortoise and win. When the hare awoke from his nap, the tortoise was crossing the finish line, and the hare was put to shame. Some scholars think that Aesop’s story mirrors Ecclesiastes 9:11: “The race is not to the swift.”
Though he didn’t, Solomon could have finished Ecclesiastes 9:11 with these words: “But to the consistent who runs the race steadily—not too fast, not too slow, but at just the right pace.” That’s the idea behind one of Solomon’s proverbs: “Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11, NIV). Yes, the Internet has spawned overnight millionaires. But business history tells far more stories of men and women who worked and saved little by little through the years, profiting from their consistency.
Consistency is found throughout God’s economy—the turning of the seasons, the movement of heavenly bodies, the replication of the genetic code throughout generations. In everything, God seems to say, “Be consistent.” God Himself is life’s greatest example of consistency: “‘For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
Consistency: The Key to Spiritual Growth
If everything in God’s creation grows consistently, little by little, how might we expect to grow spiritually as re-born followers of Christ? That’s right—consistently, little by little. Follow me on this line of thought: The key to spiritual growth is not Bible study or prayer or giving or service or worship. The key to spiritual growth is engaging in all those disciplines consistently.
Sometimes we attend a great conference or worship service and get overheated and boil over in our enthusiasm for Jesus. And then we crash and burn.
Or sometimes we chill out and ignore Jesus for weeks and find ourselves grinding through the gears of life, unable to function. And we cry out to God for help.
We must grow spiritually like an old-time miner who searched for gold or silver on his own. With pick and shovel, he dug his hole and picked at the rocks—daily, consistently, expectantly until he reached his goal. That’s exactly the image Solomon gives us in Proverbs 2:4—working toward growth like looking “for hidden treasures.” That kind of growth takes patience and consistency. Not too fast, not too slow, but just the right progress day by day.
Don’t burn up or freeze up when following Jesus. Monitor your temperature gauge and run the race with consistency.
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.