Here, at the start of week 7, the final week of Lent, I want to draw our attention toward the branch of stubbornness.
To be stubborn is to have or show dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
The key is that last part: especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
It’s one thing to show dogged determination in the face of adversity. It is a whole other thing to be uncompromising in the face of contrary evidence. The latter is not a positive quality and often leads to tragic outcomes. As Proverbs 29:1 (ESV) says, He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
This is such a helpful piece of wisdom because if we receive critical feedback only once, then maybe the person providing the feedback is simply off base. But if we hear the same feedback, consistently, from many sources, then we must let God prune our stubbornness so that we do not become broken beyond healing.
Many, many times, the Bible refers to people—sometimes God’s people, other times leaders like Pharaoh—as stubborn of heart or stiff-necked. In each case, God laments it and instead, wishes our hearts were more pliable.
If we want to be less stubborn, we will rarely accomplish it by mere willpower. Instead, we need to ask God to do a little heart surgery. We need to invite God to do the work described in Ezekiel 36:26 — I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
TODAY’s REFLECTION: How would you like to be described? As (A) obstinate, mulish, bull-headed, contrary, recalcitrant, uncooperative, unaccommodating, & stiff-necked or as (B) open to feedback, willing to change, accepting of limits, and responsive to correction. Pay attention today to your way of being. Ask God to prune any branches related to the description in (A) so that you might instead bear fruit via the description in (B)
Wow. I’m really preachin’ to myself today! Lord, have mercy