Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. Deuteronomy 10:16
So the other day as I’m writing, the word stiff-necked comes to my mind.
It means to be stubborn. Like a mule.
You could say after I have now properly learned the true meaning of this word, I’ve come to realize that God and I have wrestled through this issue a time or two.
God uses the word stiff-necked many times to describe His people the Israelites throughout scripture. He uses it twice within a paragraph in Exodus 33 as He’s bottomlining his beloved children.
You know the one’s who refused to listen, kept going around the same mountain, (issues), and continued to go on their sick, crazy ways?
Man I don’t know about you but I read about these people and they drive me nuts. I’m sitting there saying out loud, “Seriously people enough already! Just listen to what He’s telling you, what the heck is your deal?!?”
They are stiff-necked. Refusing to listen. Refusing to comply. Refusing to open their hearts to God’s wisdom or direction.
Their pride means more than the change which could take place if they would take a leap of faith, shut their mouths, and open their ears and hearts.
How many times have I had the holy spirit nudge me and I refuse because it’s hard, it hurts my pride and I want to clutch to the familiar dysfunction of being stubborn?
Here are some symptoms I compiled that we may have a little stiff-necked syndrome:
- We stay in the same place for a long period of time. (it took the Israelites 40 years to get to the promised land, it was an 11 day trip.)
- The words “I’m sorry” rarely grace our lips, or haven’t for some time. We can’t remember the last time we gave a true, humble apology.
- Our hearts and lives stop bearing the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control), as our pride grows taller.
- We have no peace, with God, ourselves or others.
- There’s an area God has been dealing with us on for quite some time and we still won’t budge or refuse to change.
This scripture really spoke to me on this issue:
Proverbs 29:1 (The Message)
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
Ouch that is scary. That our hearts can become so calloused and hard that we may no longer receive healing. Friends I think most of us can attest to being stubborn at times. And Satan tries to convince us that our pride protects us, but, I’ve learned the only thing our pride gives us is a hard heart.
This “stiff-necked” word may be new to me, but being prideful is not. May we ask God to soften our hearts and make them more pliable?
Father- we repent of every time we’re stubborn and refuse to listen to your voice. Help us to have courage and a willingness to choose you and your direction over our pride. To have faith that when you tell us to do something hard, there is a reason for it and you are going to bring fruit from it that we can’t even begin to imagine. Remind us that being stiff-necked is not just rooted in pride, but from unbelief in not trusting you at your word. Thank you Father for the healing that is going to come forth from allowing you to change our hearts.
Love you friends!