Have you ever suffered from a stiff neck?
Sometimes, when I sleep wrong at night, I wake with a stiff neck and turning my head to the left or right is uncomfortable. If you’ve had a stiff neck, you know what I’m talking about. It restricts and affects all of your movements through out the day. It cannot be ignored and the only way to be relieved of the tension is to loosen it up.
As we read through Deuteronomy chapters 6-10, we see the deep love the Lord has for His chosen people. Even in their unrighteousness, He extends blessings and protection.
But we also see Israel called, through out the Old Testament, stiff-necked and stubborn.
“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.”
~ Deuteronomy 9:6
“The Lord said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people.”
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
The word stubborn in theses verses is interchangeable with the word stiff-necked.
Stubborn means: “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”
Are you stubborn?
Some synonyms for the word stubborn are strong-willed, difficult, and inflexible.
We see in Deuteronomy 10:16 that stubbornness is a matter of the heart.
Stubbornness comes from a hard heart.
We all have a level of hardness. None of us are living our lives perfectly.
Hardness of heart comes from a lack of repentance. Hardness starts small. It’s just one rationalization, one justification, or one minimization away…and slowly our heart grows hard.
Only conviction of our sin, softens a heart but when we live in denial of our sin and stay in a place where we are not confessing our sins to God regularly – our sin grows and our hardness grows and our stubbornness grows. We become separated from God by our sin. We cling to our wrong doing and live in denial of the consequences ahead for our sin.
When Adam and Eve ate from the tree in the Garden of Eden – God did not wink at them and say – “it’s okay”. No, He kicked them out of the garden, put an angel with a flaming sword to guard the garden and then gave them consequences.
Sometimes we think we are the exception. That consequences are for others – but we cannot escape them. Consequences are not always immediate – but they do come.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” Hebrews 12:6
God disciplines us because we were not designed to live with hard hearts – it limits our lives and is not God’s best for us.
Ignoring our sin by denying, rationalizing, minimizing and justifying it – is like taking your car to a mechanic and learning you need something small fixed. If you ignore the mechanic – a few months later – you may end up with a large repair that could have been avoided had you paid the mechanic to fix the minor repair.
What small sin in your life have you ignored?
Fix it now through repentance.
Often times a person with a hard heart doesn’t want to do the work to change a habitual sin – especially if it’s hurt others. It’s a lot of work to deal with sin and it takes humility to go to people we have hurt and repent. Sometimes we are so busy being right or looking good, we deny the hurt we have caused.
We become rigid..and stiff-necked…and stubborn.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
We cannot follow our hearts. Our hearts deceive us. Our natural pull is toward hardness of heart not softness. So if we do not have intimacy with God – then I can tell you where you’ll end up…with a hard heart.
And so that brings us to Deuteronomy 10:12 & 13
12 “What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
This passage tells us:
5 Things the Lord Requires of Us
1.) Fear the Lord your God
2.) Walk in all His ways
3.) Love God
4.) Serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul
5.) Keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
Which of these 5 things are you struggling with today?
Is there something God is laying on your heart you need to deal with?
Has stubbornness crept into your life?
Commit here in the comment section to soften your heart today through confession and repentance.
Then strive to follow the five things in the list above: fear God, walk in his ways, love God, serve God and keep his commandments.
You will be blessed when you do.
Walk with the King,
For Further Reading
The GMG Leadership Team is Blogging Through the Bible Too! Visit their blogs here:
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Good Morning Guys – The Book of Deuteronomy Journal
(for your sons)