We all get a stubborn streak in us from time to time, but the Bible is clear that it is not a good way to be – especially when it comes to the things of God.
Look at the way God warned His people as He brought them out of Egypt about falling into the trap of stubbornness:
Deuteronomy 9:6–7 (ESV) — 6 “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. 7 Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.
Deuteronomy 29:18–19 (ESV) — 18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.
Consider the way stubbornness caused God’s people to miss out on the best that God had for them:
Psalm 81:10–16 (ESV) — 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. 13 Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! 14 I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. 16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Consider the way that a stubborn attitude demonstrates itself in pushing for our own way rather than listening to God, in the way we just rebel against His authority, and the way it causes us to go backward rather than forward in enjoying His blessings in life:
Isaiah 30:1 (ESV) — 1 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin;
Jeremiah 5:23 (ESV) — 23 But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away.
Jeremiah 7:24 (ESV) — 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
So, in what areas do you find yourself exhibiting a stubborn attitude toward God and His word? Many Christians push aside various commands in Scripture and claim that is not important for us today, but it’s merely being stubborn. How many times have you quenched the leading of the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel or help someone? That’s only being stubborn as you resist the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit. The bottom line is when we fail to, as the word of God says, “incline our ear” to Him with a ready attitude, then we are being stubborn leading to God’s judgment and our missing out on God’s best. Is that what you want?
Jeremiah 11:8 (ESV) — 8 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”
Jeremiah 18:12 (ESV) — 12 “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’
Zechariah 7:11 (ESV) — 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.
As you approach a new year, think of the ways you might have exhibited a stubborn attitude this past year and ask God to help you overcome your selfishness and pride in trying to do things on your own.