Stubbornness is one of the chief causes of immaturity. This manifestation of a prideful heart causes one to stiffen his or her neck, cover their ears when God graciously brings instruction or rebuke, and thereby refuse to listen to the Lord. It was this hardness of heart that resulted in God closing His ears to the prayers of His people. One classic example is found in Zechariah 7:11-13.
But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts.
Unfortunately, as was predicted by the apostle concerning the rebellious attitudes that would be prevalent in ‘the last days,’ we live in a day in which stubbornness is often mistaken for strength of conviction. But it is interesting that whenever you find men and women of the Bible who were recognized and honored for strong convictions about their own obedience to God’s Word, we also find humility, gentleness, and a submissive attitude toward authority (in everything, except sin). The exception is the Pharisees who did not know God.
O, Christian, do not make the mistake of thinking highly of your stubbornness! Instead, have the attitude of Matthew Henry, as he exhorted his congregation, “Lament the stubbornness of your will, and its constant resistance to every suggestion that it should live in submission to God’s law,” and then prayed this prayer of confession:
We have a carnal mind that stands in enmity against God. It will not and cannot live in subjection to the law of God. You have written for us the great things of your law, but they have been regarded by us a strange thing. Our corrupt hearts have been constantly saying, ‘Who is the Almighty that we should serve him?’ We ignore God’s law. Yet we are ready and eager to do whatever we formulate in our own heart and proclaim with our own mouth. We have walked in the way of our own heart, and done what is pleasing in the sight of our own eyes, constantly fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the self-pleasing mind. Rom. 8:7; Hos 8:12; Job 21:15; Jer 44:17; Eccles 11:9; Eph 2:3.
Our neck has been as rigid as though it were made of iron sinews. We have made our hearts as hard as stone. We have refused to listen, and turned away from your with the shrug of a stubborn shoulder. We have stopped our ears like the deaf adder that will not listen to the voice of the charmer, though he charm with the greatest skill. How we have hated instruction! Our heart has despised reproof. We have not obeyed the voice of our teachers, and refused to offer a listening ear to those that would instruct us. Isa 48:4; Zech 7:11, 12; Ps 58:4, 5; Prov 5:12, 13.