PROUD AND STUBBORN…

But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands.

Nehemiah 9:16, New Living Translation

  1. The Two Sisters

Pride and stubbornness are twin sisters.  They often go together.  Where you find pride, you are sure to find her sister too, and where you find stubbornness, pride would usually not be far.  They often go together, and they usually would not stoop for any on the way, unless it serves their vanity well.  Their backs are elegant and stiff.  Not even for common peace would they easily bend.  Peace on their terms or trouble for everyone, until their back is broken, suddenly, as the wisest man once warned (Proverbs 29:1).

Pride and stubbornness – that is sometimes the explanation for that unrelenting hold on one’s stance, one’s right, no matter the consequences to any other.  Where you find stubbornness, pride could be the instigator; and where pride shows her painted face, be sure to meet her sister soon.

  1. Casualties of their Pomp

Pride was the root of Lucifer’s rebellion. He had such “pomp” that he boasted, “I will exalt my throne … I will sit… I will …” until he was “cut down to the ground” – suddenly, like a falling star (Isaiah 14:12-14).  In his pervasive pride, King Nebuchadnezzar would not heed God’s notice sent to him a full year before, that he should mind his arrogant ways. He learned his lesson only after he had been sent to the wild for a seven-year term with the humbling beasts.  On his graduation from that Specialist University of Beasts with its campus in the woods, he proclaimed at last that the Most High was supreme (Daniel 4:1-37).  Did he have to go so low to learn that truth?  Beware, O thrones of the lofty in the land. Beware, O thrones and elevated altars of the sacred but pompous. And hear, ye keepers at home that must fight because you are right…   Somebody’s sunset is another’s sunrise …

God sent a plea to Pharaoh of Egypt: “Let my people go.”  Proudly, that king queried, “Who is that God.”  To his one haughty query God replied with ten grievous plagues.  Still, he kept up with his pompous opposition, until the Red Sea silenced him, suddenly.  He had been so proud and stubborn that, to his own undoing, he “paid no attention” even to the Most High, like his clan of the ancient Israelites.

  1. Modern Names for Ancient Sins

Of the ancestors in our passage it is being confessed by one of their seeds, that they were “proud and stubborn”: pride birthing stubbornness, and stubbornness founded on pride. A terrible combination of wrong behaviours leading to unpleasant consequences.

As those ancestors were “proud and stubborn … they refused to obey…” (Nehemiah 9:16-17, NLT).   That says something more, defining stubbornness as refusal to obey healthy rules.  Sadly, though, children of the two sisters do not usually accept the definition, so they call stubbornness by such nicer names as Freedom and Choice. Their father was once in Paradise.

Wise words often waste on the proud like water on the back of a duck.  That’s one way to know them: “proud and stubborn … they refused to listen …” (The Living Bible); “arrogant and stiff-necked” they “did not obey” (NIV).  Have you ever met them?  Venture a helpful counsel, and they would look you up from your head down to your toes condescendingly, like a vicious cannibal inspecting a hapless prey before the dastardly act.

  1. Firm and Righteous

That the proud is stubborn is not to mean that virtue always says yes to every call, for one can be firm and they are not being stubborn at all.  Every firm refusal is not pride or stubbornness.  The three Hebrew boys in the Bible story of Daniel were firm in their refusal to bow to the national idol of Babylon.  Their enemies called it stubbornness.  For God, it was dedication, it was commendable faith (Daniel 3:12-25).  So, the label might not be right when somebody puts it on everybody, sometimes because they wish to blackmail.

To refuse ungodliness and unrighteousness is righteousness.  Still, let me quickly add, that when ‘firmness for God’ becomes something to push in the face of others as a right for a fight, it has become pride, and her sister has merely been masquerading with a holier name. The obstinate godliness that would kill everyone else who thinks differently, is not what it calls itself.

  1. A Helpful Diagnosis

Here is a helpful diagnosis: are you battling stubbornness?  What you see might merely be the symptom of her sister, Pride.  Try treating pride, and stubbornness could depart with her. But if symptoms persist, then their father probably has a hand in it, and stiffness that resists the ointments of kindness might sooner enter the brutal theatre of sudden destructions (Proverbs 29:1).

From The Preacher’s diary,
January 12, 2024.

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Bolanle Musa
Bolanle Musa
5 months ago

May God help us resist our hardwired nature of always wanting things our way. May God’s Spirit of unity guide our every decision.

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