“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way.” Acts 19:8-9
In these bible verses we discover another barrier or stumbling block to being open minded. It’s an attitude called “stubbornness”. Ouch.
Paul had travelled to Ephesus and was preaching in the synagogue about Jesus. He persevered for 3 months until the stubbornness of some in the Synagogue caused him to leave and continue his preaching elsewhere in the city.
What does it really mean to be stubborn? I’m sure that we have all encountered people who we would describe as stubborn but do we really recognise what it is and how dangerous a characteristic it is. Have you ever been called Stubborn? I know I have.
One of the dictionary definitions is:
“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.”
In other words there is compelling evidence for you to change your position and it’s for your benefit, but you refuse to do so.
Other similar expressions to describe people who are stubborn are – “headstrong, obstinate, wilful”. It’s definitely not a characteristic which is mentioned as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
My father in law tells the story of his daughter and his Dad (who were both stubborn people) getting into a deadlock over taking her medicine. She knew it would make her better but she refused to take it. Both sat either side of a table with the medicine in the middle refusing to move until one of them backed down. It lasted hours. In that situation one was determined and one was being stubborn.
If someone calls me stubborn then I have learnt to carefully consider the context in which they are saying it. Is it justified? The word “stubborn” can get bandied about as an accusation (wrongly) when someone just wants you to do what they say or want. If you refuse you are labelled stubborn.
The question to perhaps consider is this. Is there a good and valid reason and solid argument for me to change my mind? Is the evidence being presented credible and weighty. If it is and I’m not changing my position then why is that? Am I just being stubborn? If so, I need to do something about that attitude.
If on the other hand, there isn’t a good reason or argument to change and I am not convinced by the reasoning or evidence then I will stand firm, remain steadfast and not change or compromise. Being steadfast in my beliefs is not the same as being stubborn. Steadfast or stubborn…there is a difference.
Pride and stubbornness are often linked together and in my last post I considered being a A Know it all? Pride and thinking we know it all can make us stubborn. Does pride lead to stubbornness or stubbornness to pride.
So what did Paul go on to say to the Ephesians in his letter to them. He encouraged them to be humble.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future”. Ephesians 4:2-4
He also encouraged them to resist the enemy, his accusations and lies and to be steadfast in their faith.
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness “ Ephesians 6:13-14