Stubbornness is defined as “dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something.”
Other words associated with stubbornness are: obstinate, unreasonable, unmoving, difficult, hard, stiff, fixed, and set. When I hear these terms I think of boulders – unmoving and unmovable – not alive. Things that are alive move. Things that are don’t move or can’t on their own.
Stubbornness seems to have reached epidemic proportions in America. I can’t recall a time when there was so much stubbornness over so many things. Frankly, it’s extremely frustrating and exhausting. And when I encounter stubbornness, I don’t have many nice thoughts about the person being stubborn. The whole love my neighbor thing certainly gets put to the test when I encounter someone who is stubborn. That’s why Jesus’ call to discipleship is costly. It’s not the easy people Jesus was talking about – but rather the one’s we know we are going to struggle with.
Scripture has a good amount to say concerning stubbornness. This actually helps. It tells me that there has always been stubbornness – willful stubbornness. And yet, the Gospel persisted anyway, stubbornly. When I think of the stubbornness throughout history, I am relieved to remember that it isn’t new and that there will be more stubbornness after I am gone. Scripture also reminds me of how I am to deal with someone who is stubborn. Scripture also reminds me of how God deals with stubbornness too. When I read how God deals with it, I have to laugh – apparently God gets frustrated with stubbornness too. Psalm 81:11-12 (see below) is a great example.
So if God gets frustrated by stubbornness, then why should I expect to fair any better?
Proverbs 29:1- He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
Psalm 81:11-12 – “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.”
Romans 2:5 – But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Acts 7:51 – You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
Isaiah 48:4 – Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass,
Exodus 32:9 – And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.
Zechariah 7:11-12 – 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.
Isaiah 46:12 – Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness:
Jeremiah 7:24 – But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
Hebrews 3:7-12 – Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”…
2 Kings 17:14 – But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.
Ezekiel 2:1-4:17 – And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. …
Jeremiah 11:8 – Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.
Psalm 78:10 – They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law.
Nehemiah 9:17 – They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.
Deuteronomy 31:27 – For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are.
Jeremiah 5:23 – But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away.
Psalm 95:8 – Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
Ephesians 4:18 – They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
Hosea 4:16 – Like a stubborn heifer, Israel is stubborn; can the Lord now feed them like a lamb in a broad pasture?
Proverbs 28:4 – Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
2 Chronicles 30:8 – Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you.
Deuteronomy 15:7 – If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother,…
Deuteronomy 10:16 – Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
Deuteronomy 9:13 – Furthermore, the Lord said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people.
Judges 2:19 – But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
Deuteronomy 9:27 – Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin,
hebrews 3:15 – As it is said,
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’