The Stubborn Heart

When the preacher on Sunday morning mentioned the sinfulness of stubbornness, my conscience was pricked and my attentiveness was raised. Where is there a latent or obvious form of stubbornness within my heart? What about for you; is there stubbornness within you that keeps you from living the abundant Christian life?

Stubbornness is a nasty attribute. Some variant of the word stubborn appears 28 times in the Bible, and it’s also referred an additional 19 times as “stiff-necked.” Regardless of the exact term, God is deeply distressed by stubborn hearts. He delights when we let go of our stubbornness and return to Him.

When God’s people follow “the stubbornness of their evil hearts” (Jeremiah 11:8), they show forth how “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9) without the Lord. When we follow the “stubborn inclinations of our evil hearts” it only leads us “backward and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:24). Left to our own self-absorbed choices, God at times gives us “over to our stubborn hearts to follow our own desires” (Psalm 81: 11,12).

Returning in submission to the Lord is the only antidote to stubbornness. Returning to God and choosing to obey Him is the only way to reverse a stubborn heart. Because of God’s gracious and merciful love for His children, He stands on the porch of heaven waiting for us to come to our senses and turn our hearts toward home. When we do so, His loving embrace leads us back into a life of strength that grows out of a renewed longing for sweet surrender.

What about our stubbornness toward one another? Those who have an overpowering need to be right all the time leave no room for another opinion and no room for joy. It’s hard to work with a stubborn person. It’s difficult to be married to a stubborn person. Stubborn people always have to get their way, often at the expense of their relationships. They have no clue about the values of flexibility, listening, and a teachable spirit.

Is it time to end your dogged determination of hanging on obstinately to a dead end proposition, attitude, right, or opinion? Instead, humble yourself and pray that God in his infinite love and mercy will lead you to a heart that’s renewed from the inside out. Then, seek out those you may have hurt by your stubborn heart and be reconciled. There’s freedom on the opposite side of stubbornness. What’s your choice today?


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective),  Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn and twin grandsons, Aiden Joseph and Carson Stephen. “My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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