"If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land."
- Isaiah 1:19 NIV
One of my younger sisters gave me a great compliment recently. She said that when we were growing up, she learned from me how to stand strong and have the strength of my convictions. I told her it meant a lot to me that she would feel that way. And I confessed that one of the main reasons why I've been able to stand strong in certain ways, was because I've always had a stubborn streak a mile long. Many times, it has helped me not to compromise my walk with God. And other times, it has actually hindered my relationship with the Lord.
My conversation with my sister got me thinking about the differences between good stubbornness and bad stubbornness. I looked up the word "stubbornness" in the dictionary, and I found some interesting contrasts in the definitions I saw there. One definition said, "Unreasonably, often perversely, unyielding." And I began thinking of some of the Scriptures that could apply. In Psalm 32, David wrote: "The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.'" (v.8-9 NLT) In every situation and circumstance we encounter in this life, we will have to choose between seeking God's will and yielding to it, or going our own way. If we will believe that the Lord truly knows what's best for us, and if we will act on that belief, we won't ever have to miss out on His best. Another definition for stubbornness says, "Difficult to treat or deal with; resistant to treatment or effort." Sometimes the Lord will deal with us about something in our lives that is not right with Him. Whether He attempts to correct us through His Spirit, His Word, or someone else, if we resist His dealings, He may have to allow us to suffer the natural consequences of our stubbornness. Proverbs 29:1 (MSG) says: "For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there'll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it'll be too late to help them."
One positive definition of "stubbornness" is, "Firmly resolved or determined." These are traits that Christians demonstrate when they refuse to compromise their walk with God. The Bible says: "Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset--rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world." (1 Peter 5:8-9 AMP) When we are tempted to do wrong, having the right kind of stubbornness--the kind that makes us "immovable and determined"--will enable us to stand strong, and to refuse to give in to pressure. Another positive definition for stubbornness is, "Characterized by perseverance; persistent." This is the kind of stubbornness that enables us to continue to believe God for good, and to hold firmly to His promises, when all of our circumstances are screaming defeat at us. Jesus said: "The seed in the good earth--these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there's a harvest." (Luke 8:15 MSG) If we will stubbornly hold on to God's truth, and the promises He speaks to our hearts, we will eventually bear fruit that will not only glorify Him, but will produce a harvest in our lives that will gain the attention of an unbelieving world.
There is a stubbornness born of pride, which is offensive to God, because it keeps us apart from Him and His best for us. And then there's a stubbornness born of our devotion to the Lord, and a right focus. May this word of encouragement challenge and inspire you today--"Yield now and be at peace with [God]; thereby good will come to you"! (Job 22:21 NASB)
Prayer: Lord, my prayer today is that I would have less and less of the wrong kind of stubbornness in my heart and life from now on, and more and more of the right kind. Help me to cultivate a deeper relationship with You, so that I may grow stronger in the Lord every day. Thank You that as I cooperate with You, You will make me willing and obedient, so that I may receive Your best in every way! (Isaiah 1:19)
- J. M. Farro