The Need to Be Consistent
2Cor. 1:15 ¶ Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favor;
2Cor. 1:16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea.
2Cor. 1:17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?
2Cor. 1:18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.”
Paul was constantly under pressure from some of the folks at the church in Corinth. Evidently he had been accused by them of changing his mind and being fickle about returning to visit them in Corinth. It is in this passage that we hear Paul’s response. The “Yes, yes,” and “No, no” to which he refers is really the way of the world. We will say “yes” when we might mean “no” if something better comes along. So, we don’t really know if a “yes” is a “yes” or a “no” is a “no.” It frustrated Paul that he might be compared to this kind of human response.
Ryrie paraphrases the verse as follows:
Did my change of plans indicate that I couldn’t make up my mind? Am I like a worldly man who says yes and no at the same time?
Then he declares the consistency in his ministry and testimony — he has not been responding as the world would respond. His “yes” has been “yes” and his “no” has been “no.” His change of travel plans had nothing to do with finding something “better” to do or “better” people with whom to hang out! When he says that he’s making every effort to come and visit them, he means it sincerely and plans to come and see them. Paul wants his words and his life to be a consistent message to the people.
There is a need for the words of our mouth and the ways in which we live our lives to be consistent. We are called to the deeper Christian life, one which profoundly changes the way in which we live our lives and this includes a call to consistency. No one wants to hear someone declare something from their lips about what it means to be a follower of Christ and then watch them live their lives in a different way.
This is one of the problems that Christianity has been facing in the last number of years. There has been a lack of consistency between the words spoken and the actions taken. Too many “spiritual” leaders have fallen because of sexual immorality, greed or lavishness of lifestyle. Eventually people become discouraged with what they see and begin to ask themselves, “is this all there is?”
This is the reason Paul was so defensive. He was careful to be consistent and he wanted people to see Christ in and through him.
We, too, must be careful that Christ be seen in and through us. There must be consistency in the way in which we live. Ours should be a life that will give glory to God. If this is an area in which we struggle, may we pray that God gives us the strength for our “yes” to be “yes” and our “no” to be “no” and to live out our salvation in faith and a daily life that reveals the consistent character of God.
Lord, may you lead today and may my life reveal the consistency of who you are. Amen.