Ever dealt with someone stubborn? I mean really stubborn, as in talking-to-a-wall stubborn?
[Some of you are thinking, Yes, I’m married to him . . . :-)]
I’ve even heard some folks describing themselves this way as if it were a compliment.
Or at least God never uses it that way. In fact, sometimes it’s translated with a word that creates an interesting image:
- And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 32:9).
- “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3).
And then Stephen used it here to describe his audience:
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51).
The “stiff-necked” image reflects that of a beast of burden refusing to lower its head to receive the yoke. It will not submit to its master’s will, intending instead to do what it wants.
We see how the image applies to us human beings as well. It connotes someone who is obstinate, unyielding, unwilling to budge or submit. It’s someone who won’t admit he’s wrong, who won’t say she’s sorry, who refuses to follow someone else’s guidance.
You don’t need to live long to meet someone who epitomizes this trait. It’s quite unpleasant and usually makes a significant impression.
But, of course, like most things, the place we need to start isn’t at work or church, or even at home in our spouses or kids. There’s a bit of stiff-necked-ness in us all, isn’t there?
Do you struggle to tell your spouse you were wrong? Have you admitted to your children that it was sinful when you lost your temper the other day? When deciding between God’s way and your way, do you ever lift your head obstinately and refuse to put on the yoke?
Unfortunately, stiff necks didn’t only exist in Bible times. There’s a stubborn streak in us all. Talk to the Lord about it.
Ask him to help you see your struggles with submission. Ask him to shine his light on that area of your life that you’re still stubbornly keeping from him.
And then ask him to work on your stiff neck.
Bow your head before God’s yoke. —Chuck