Stubborn Versus Teachable

Have you ever been around a stubborn person?  Perhaps you have obstinate tendencies yourself.  I have experienced both.  I have been around people who refuse instruction of any type, and I have been that stubborn person.  The irony has been that I get so exasperated when dealing with an extremely stubborn person yet I conveniently forget that I can be obstinate in my own right.

Neither scenario is pleasant.  Sadly, many people who are stubborn simply cannot see that flaw in themselves yet they can detect it in another person.  Human nature can be hypocritical.

Determination and Stubbornness:  The Difference

Everyone needs determination to stand steadfast and avoid deceit from the enemy.  Determination and stubbornness are different although the line can be fine.  Determination is the God-given will to grow spiritually with the drive needed to press through challenges and difficult situations.  Stubbornness is being unteachable and never willing to learn anything new because you are set in your ways.

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When I was a child, I was very head-strong and willful.  I was determined to have my own way and was convinced that no one could tell me what to do. How wrong I was!  I am sure I helped contribute to gray hair for my mother’s head, but the Lord gave her the determination she needed to guide me to the correct my path.  My grandmother told my mother that some of my willfulness was good because it would keep me from allowing people to take advantage of me.  I believe this gave my mother some peace about my strong personality.

Even if you have stubborn tendencies, you can remain teachable and flexible to the degree that God can mold you.  That is where the deliverance lies for the stubborn person.  Fortunately, when I gave my life to the Lord, my zeal to live to give Him glory helped me to see where obstinance could hinder my relationship with Him.  I began to realize that I would have to crucify the flesh in that area of my life.  If you struggle in this same area, you will begin to experience freedom when you realize that you must be pliable and moldable to God.  We are not winning by remaining stubborn when we need to yield.

Do You Have Anything to Learn?

When we yield to stubbornness, we have a strong tendency to believe we know everything and have nothing to learn from other people.  That is a dangerous place to be in our lives!  We block God’s hand from moving on our behalf as well as hinder our relationships with others.

Certainly, I am not saying that we should become doormats for other people and allow them to dictate our lives.  We just need to remain flexible, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us as to when we need to stand firm on an issue or be humble.  It is a great challenge for the strong personality type, but we can do all things through Christ.

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There are some minor issues in which it is better to yield ourselves rather than appear to be right.  Some things are simply not worth the arguing and hindering of a relationship.  People are more important than getting our way.  This particular lesson took years for me to learn.  Unfortunately, I hurt many people along the way believing that I had to get the last word in an argument, and that I had to be right.  I could never be wrong.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Stubbornness Harms Relationships

During my stubborn bouts, I hurt my husband, my parents, children, and other family as well as co-workers.  Admitting I could possibly be in the wrong was painful as I am certain it is for some of you.  While it hurts to be wrong, the momentary pain of crushed pride is feasible when we look at the damage we are doing to our relationships with others, and most of all, to the Lord.

The scriptures have much to say on this issue.  Psalm 81:11-12 says, “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.”  The people of Israel could be very stubborn throughout the Old Testament.  They grumbled and complained when they did not get their way then refused to listen to Moses when he tried to guide them.  We need to be willing to accept guidance from other people, particularly if they are displaying wisdom in their own lives.  Here is a strong scripture concerning accepting guidance: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid,” Proverbs 12:1.  That hurts, doesn’t it?  People who will never listen to others, particularly the Lord, make themselves look unwise, and they are truly unwise!

Proverbs 29:1 states, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”  Our stubbornness and refusing to yield will eventually bring about our downfall.

There are numerous scriptures that rebuke stubbornness, but since some very strong ones have been mentioned, I will give you what the Bible says is the solution to the problem.  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,” 1 Peter 5:6.

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There is Hope and Deliverance

Stubborn people are like the rest of those with issues.  They are not beyond hope.  It is a matter of taking on humility which is a choice and willing our selves to submit to God.  The world will not come crashing down around you if you admit that you are wrong about something.  Trust me, I have had to humble myself many times, and I have found that it brings such sweet relief.  Be willing to take advice from someone who has been there.  Humble yourself.  If not, the Lord has ways of humbling you that are much more painful than crucifying the flesh.

  • Refusing to allow God to mold your stubborn heart will result in the wrath of God in your life (Romans 2:5).
  • Refusing correction is not wise (Proverbs 12:1).
  • Pray for a steadfast heart to overcome a stubborn nature (Psalm 78:8).
  • Yielding to your stubborn nature will cause you to move backward instead of forward in your life (Jeremiah 7:24).
  • There is wisdom in meekness rather than stubbornness (James 3:13).

The Bottom Line

Is your obstinance worth losing a marriage, a friendship, a job, or the respect of co-workers?  If you search your heart, I believe you know the answer.  Go before the Lord and ask Him to conform your will to His.  He does beautiful work, and you will have more peace and joy than you have ever known.

 

 

Dealing with False Accusations

People have been falsely accused since human beings began multiplying on the Earth.  Not everyone loves the truth.  Unfortunately, an outright lie, half-truth, or deceitful tale all come across as having more interest and spark than the plain truth.  (Incidentally, half-truths and deceit are still lies, but they have enough twisted truth in them to make them believable.) In most situations, the truth is nothing like the thousands of rumors that fly around it.

Jesus dealt with false accusations during His time in this world.  People accused the sinless Messiah of being a glutton and drunk (see Matthew 11:19).  If God in the flesh could not avoid lying tongues, then neither will you nor I.

It Hurts

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When someone spreads an untruth about us, it is hurtful.  Truthfully, it is one of the things I hate most. Untold and irreversible damage has been done to people’s lives and reputations as a result of a false accusation.

In my own life, I have dealt with this problem.  My type-A personality immediately wants to confront the accuser with the facts.  In some cases, this is the best way to handle the problem.  In other cases, it is best to be more tactful.  Although I have learned much of this the hard way, I have often asked myself how I am to know which method is best–bold confrontation or more polite ways.  The answer is simple:  let the Holy Spirit direct you.  He knows all, and He knows the best way to handle a situation.

My Side of the Story

When a dispute has taken place or one person’s version of a story has been heard, you can rest assured that there is another side to the story.  Unfortunately, we do not always find out the other side.  That is why the Bible commands us to withhold judgment.  Certainly, we do not condone wrongdoing, but we leave judgment up to God in people’s personal situations.

Recently, I had some very blatant lies told about me.  Some of the stories told about me were outright lies.  Others were quotes attributed to me that were either twisted or taken completely out of context.  It is always best to verify the facts before blurting out what we think we know.

Truthfully, I am reminded of times that I wanted to believe the worst I heard about others rather than consider that there might be another side to the story.  When the gossip hits home, I am reminded that rumors are not fair to any person.  We should not start them, and we should not entertain them.

What Does the Bible Say?

God’s word has much to say about rumors, both spreading them and dealing with them.  When you are the one falsely accused, God has a remedy for you that brings peace.  1 Peter 3:16 reminds us that we should continue living right before God.  The accusers will eventually be put to shame.  In other words, keep doing right. Eventually, others will see the truth.

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Isaiah 54:17 reminds us that weapons formed against His people do not prosper.  It also states that every tongue that rises against you in judgment will be proven wrong.  When we give these hurtful and frustrating situations to God, He will reveal the truth and bring good out of the situation.

A Look at Me

Whenever someone has brought a false accusation against me, I take time to prayerfully consider if there are ways I could have handled the situation better.  Perhaps my tone of voice in saying something was a bit hurtful.  Although God does not expect you to condemn yourself or take responsibility for something you have no fault in, it never hurts to ask the Lord if we could have spoken or acted differently in these situations.

After you have prayed about a false accusation, and given it to God, move on.  Let it go.  Dwelling on it only builds resentment which will spill over into your other relationships.  When this happens, we often take our anger out on people who have done nothing wrong.

If you or someone you know has been to prison, lost a job, or divorced over a false accusation, I encourage you to seek godly counsel to deal with this hurtful circumstance.  God can bring healing, and if restoration is needed, He can bring that as well.

Taming the Tongue

Last Sunday at church, I discussed the theme of James 3.  If you are familiar with the book of James, you know exactly where I’m going.  Ouch!  Sometimes, the Word hurts, but we need to let it hurt.

From time to time, I have to take a step back in a manner of speaking and think about my words.  What message do they convey?  Am I speaking life or death?  Am I helping or hurting with my words?  These are questions we must all ask ourselves.

There are a number of ways to misuse your words.  Although I will not be able to discuss all of them, I will attempt to highlight a few.

Negative Speaking

 

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Proverbs 18:21 is a popular passage of scripture. It is often used for selfish purposes such as declaring that people should speak worldly prosperity into their lives.  Although God has no problem blessing His people, the purpose of this passage was to remind us that we should not speak negatively about ourselves, others, or life in general.

Think about all the times that you speak negatively.  How is your disposition afterward?  Do you feel peace and joy?  Or, do you feel down and in despair?  While certain physical conditions can cause us to have a tendency to lean toward depression, speaking negatively can certainly affect our health and the way we get through a given day.

Critical Words

Constructive criticism is one thing, but berating every move another person makes is another.  As we know it, constructive criticism is helpful because it is done out of a pure motive.  Godly correction, which is a bit more than constructive criticism, is to be done in love and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When you speak critically of others, your God-given ability to practice forgiveness is hindered.  Your focus is on the fault in everyone and everything rather than what is good.  If you find it necessary to correct everything someone says or does, you have a tongue issue, and you need to seek God for deliverance.

Colossians 4:6 reminds us that our conversation should be covered with grace.  Extend grace to others and to yourself.  You will find that your disposition will improve.  Trust me, everyone around you will be grateful.

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Gossip

I don’t know of too many people who have not gossiped at one time or another.  It is a natural human tendency to tell what we have heard about others or a situation.  Most of the time, we do not have all of the facts.  Even if what we are repeating is true, there is a chance it does not need to be repeated.  Check with the Holy Spirit.  He will guide you.

Unfortunately, I have helped to spread gossip, and I have been the subject of gossip.  Jesus, help me!  I want to do better, and I believe you do too.  Ephesians 4:29 reminds us that we should let no corrupt communication proceed from our mouths, but we should speak what edifies.

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Walk away from a gossiping conversation.  If you are unable to walk away, try to find something positive to say about the person in question.  Or, simply remind everyone that the Lord commands us to address issues privately before telling them to everyone else (see Matthew 18).

Speak Life

Speak God’s word over your situations.  I am not suggesting that you become a “name it and claim it” sort of person, but I am saying that you should allow your words to line up with what God says.  God’s word says that you are an overcomer.  God’s word says that He provides escape from every temptation. God’s word says that He has given you all things that you need for life and godliness.  What else does God’s word say about you and your life?

Speak Mercy

When people offend us, and it will happen, choose mercy.  I know it’s not easy.  Just yesterday, I was extremely upset with a few people who were gossiping about some people I love.  Although God calls us to confront situations, we still have to speak mercy.  When I say to speak mercy, I mean that we must speak out that we choose to forgive our offenders and put them in God’s hands.  Extending mercy will cause mercy to come back around to us.

Speak Grace

God’s grace has been given freely to us as believers.  We must extend that grace to others. and ourselves.  Let people off the hook.  You do not have to allow people to walk all over you, but sometimes we just need to let things go.

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Speak Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.  The love of God is given to us by the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus.  We can walk in love.  We can do all things through Christ.  Remember this:  love is not a feeling.  It is an act of your will.

What Will You Speak?

James 3:8 states that no man can tame the tongue.  That’s right, we can’t, but God can.  We have God in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so our tongues can be tamed and used for God’s purposes.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 12:36 that we will give an account for every idle word that we speak.  This does not mean that we should always be silent, but it does mean that we should speak by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

What will you speak?  Life or death?  Grace or evil?  The choice is yours, but the same verse that says life and death are in the power of the tongue also says we reap the fruit of our words.

 

Contending for the Faith

Jude 3 contains a well-known phrase that many ministers use for sermon titles.  This one-chapter book of the Bible exhorts us to contend for the faith.  Next, the brief epistle reminded its readers that many false teachings were spreading to a dangerous level during the time period in which the book of Jude was written.  False teachings and apostate doctrines are alive and well today.  Some of the most dangerous of those are prevalent in the western portion of the world, especially in the United States.

What does it mean to contend?

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The Greek word that is used for contend is epagonizomai meaning to struggle for, to combat.  The word is a verb indicating an action that is to be taken.  In other words, we are to be willing to fight for our faith.

When looking throughout the Bible concerning spiritual warfare, it is imperative to note that our struggle is not against people.  Unfortunately, people are involved when we have to stand boldly for the faith in loving disagreement.  Often, people take our disagreement with them to mean we lack love.  Although there are cases in which that may be true, a genuine child of God, learns to disagree yet still love the people involved.

Contending in Deed more than Word

Although standing boldly for the Word of the Lord often requires us to speak boldly, our actions should speak louder than our words.  If we say we believe in a certain principle, we should stand by it.  Saying one thing and doing another is one sure way to make faith-contending less effective.

When we have to speak against the actions of a person, or a group of people, it is important to do so in love.  In Ephesians 4, Paul admonishes his readers to speak the truth in love.  Speaking the truth without love often does more harm than good.  Truth coupled with love brings change.  However, it is important to note that if you have spoken the truth in love, and people are still offended, you have done no wrong.

Beware of a False Gospel

What I am about to write is without malice because I love my country.  I am thankful to live in the United States of America.  With that being said, it is vital that I make it clear that we in the western portion of the world often are used to being comfortable.  Confrontation and boldly proclaiming the gospel demand that we come out of the comfort zone.  The disease of political correctness is plaguing the Christian church in America.  Pastors and teachers will not speak out about controversial issues such as abortion, questioning one’s gender, and so on.

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By remaining silent, we are allowing the gospel of comfort to spread rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The true gospel saves sinners and sanctifies them.  The agape love of God loves the sinner, but when the sinner comes for salvation, He loves the individual too much to leave him in his sin.  I do not believe we have to beat people down, but I do believe we have to let them know that God has a much better way.

The book of Jude closes on a positive note.  Verse 24 reminds us that Jesus Christ is able to keep us from falling.  Our boldness and ability to contend for the faith comes from Him and not ourselves.  When I am reminded of that, it brings comfort because I am not able to stand boldly without Him.  Neither are you, but the good news is that you don’t have to stand alone.

For a more in-depth study on the book of Jude, check out the study guide I have on Amazon.

Breaking New Ground

Recently, I told my church that I believed God was bringing us as individuals as well as a body of believers into a new season.  Without even realizing what has happened, my church seems to be breaking new ground spiritually.  What do I mean by breaking new ground?

Leaving Comfort Zones Behind

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One of the first steps to gaining new ground from the enemy in the spiritual realm is to be willing to leave your comfort zone.  Often, as Christians, we tend to stay where we feel comfortable and safe, but is that truly Biblical?  In Amos 6:1, the word states the following:  “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and trust in the mountain of Samaria…”

Our trust has to totally be in Jesus Christ, not in things of the world.  When we leave what is comfortable, we are sending a clear message to the demonic realm that we trust completely in God.  That act of faith moves the obstacles in the spiritual realms causing us to gain ground.

Gaining and Breaking New Ground

Some of the ground we gain is territory that we previously possessed yet gave up to the enemy out of fear or complacency.  However, when we break new ground, we step into realms with Jesus Christ in which we have never been.  Although this might seem scary, it is exactly what we were meant to do.  God never intended for us to stay in the same place.  He intended for us to grow and mature spiritually.

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Breaking new ground requires leaving some things behind.  Bitterness, resentment, sexual sin, gossiping, and other sins cannot come to the new level God in which God wants to take you.  In order to be effective for the kingdom of God, we have to be free from distractions.  2 Timothy 2:4 states plainly that in order to be victorious over sin and the demonic realm, we have to avoid being entangled in sin and other distractions that keep our focus in the wrong place.

A New Thing

I believe that in the days we are living in, God wants His people to stand out.  When I say stand out, I do not mean that we should obnoxiously stand out and draw unnecessary attention to ourselves.  This type of behavior does not glorify Jesus. However, we can stand strongly and boldly and without apology for the truth of God’s word and His kingdom and do so in love.

Although God’s character does not change, He sometimes operates in what we perceive to be different ways.  These ways are not truly different of His person.  We simply have not known some of His ways because we have dwelt too long in the comfort zone.  Isaiah 43:19 declares the following:  “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

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If we are not careful, friends, we can fail to know the new thing God is doing.  That is why the question is asked “Shall you not know it?”  Don’t miss what God has for you because you are afraid to leave something behind.  Don’t allow fear of what people think to cause you to miss God’s best for you.

God is bringing His people to a new level, not to make us look wonderful, but to glorify Jesus Christ in all the earth.  He wants to use us to point people to salvation before the return of Jesus Christ.  Will you be part of the new thing God is doing?  Step out of your comfort zone and break new ground!