Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Heart 6_Stubbornness

By Bessie Wilson

We have all known the frustration of dealing with a stubborn child or adult who will not respond to reason or argument. We know what stubbornness is even if we cannot define it. The dictionary lists many synonyms for this word such as obstinate, mulish, pig-headed, stiff-necked, arrogant or defiant. Like so many other English words, the definition of stubbornness has gone through a transition. The original meaning of the word included such good qualities as sturdy, fixed, resolute and unyielding. However, today the emphasis seems to be on the negative aspect of the word.

So it is in the Bible. When speaking to King Saul, the prophet Samuel said, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance (stubbornness in KJV), like the evil of idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23, NIV). What was the sin of Saul in this case? He insisted on his own way while declaring that he had obeyed the Lord (1 Samuel 15:20). Perhaps verse 12 gives us a hint of this when Samuel heard, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor.” In almost every sin, we can find that pride and self-glory will be found at the base of our incomplete obedience to God. At some point we have decided that we know better than God what we should do.

Every counselor knows the sorrow of bringing people just so far in their reconciliation to God before a stubborn refusal sets in. Stubbornness refuses to admit the sin, and this refusal halts the reconciliation.

It was said of Israel in Judges 2:19 that, “they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” In Psalm 78:8 God yearns for His people, desiring that “they would not be like their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

There are people today who are intellectually convinced of the truth of the gospel but remain unsaved. In Romans 2:5 they are given this warning: “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourselves for the day of God’s wrath when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” These people are too stubborn to admit their need of a Savior and are unwilling to receive the robe of righteousness. They stubbornly clutch their rags of righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). Obviously, pride is the problem. Pride will keep people out of heaven.

My great concern is that we learn to deal with our own stubbornness. But first we must learn to recognize it. We should all be firm and resolute against sin creeping into our lives, but we should be gracious and yielding in matters of opinion. For example, consider the interpretation of Scripture passages which have been argued over for centuries. In searching my own heart I find a pride of opinion of interpretation that leads to unnecessary strife with others.

This is seen especially in marriage. It is not usually a weighty matter that disrupts the fellowship. It may be a disagreement over directions in the car. Who is right? Who is wrong? Although one may be right, both may be wrong. When pride is threatened, stubbornness makes us argumentative and a nuisance to each other. How hard it can be to say, “I was wrong,” when pride keeps us unwilling to be vulnerable to our partner. Stubborn people are unforgiven and unforgiving.

O would some power the Giver give us
To see ourselves as others see us.

- Robert Burns

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