The Pryor Times

Religion

March 14, 2014

Steadfast or just plain stubborn?

PRYOR, OK — Sometimes there is a very fine line between what is good and what is bad.  There are two characteristics described in the Bible that are somewhat similar, but while one is admirable and desirable, the other is very unacceptable.  Not only is it unacceptable, it is disgusting, both to God and to man.  

Paul wrote about the desirable trait in Galatians 6:9: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Here, Paul is describing steadfastness.  As the old saying goes, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”  To be successful, we must be steadfast.  In other words, we must continue all the way through to the end, even though it may be difficult.  Another adage says, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  We must keep on keeping on.

James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  All of us will face trials and temptations in life.  But when the going gets tough and we are tempted to quit, steadfastness causes us to keep going.

Jesus warned His disciples that they would be hated for His name’s sake, but He said that he who endures to the end will be saved.  Peter wrote in I Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  He tells us to resist Satan by being steadfast in the faith.

But the other characteristic is stubbornness.  What is the difference between being steadfast and being stubborn?  It is easy for us to feel that we are steadfast, while at the same time believing others are just plain stubborn.  How can we tell the difference?  To help us see the difference, we might ask, “Whose cause is being defended?   Is my main concern for myself, or am I interested in serving God?”  Steadfastness is defending and promoting God’s cause, while stubbornness is defending and promoting our own cause.

King Saul considered himself steadfast when he fought the Amalekites, but he did not obey God’s command to utterly destroy them.  He spared King Agag and saved the best of the animals and other good things.  He stated that those things were brought back to offer them to the Lord.  But that was not what God commanded.  Samuel told Saul that he was rebellious and stubborn (I Samuel 15:23).  The Bible tells us that God rejected Saul from being king because he stubbornly rejected God’s word.  An important lesson to learn is that “to obey is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22).  It was more important for Saul to obey God’s commands than to offer additional sacrifices to Him.

One who is steadfast is dependable, effective, and productive in doing God’s will.  One who does not obey all of God’s will, but only does what he thinks is best, is arrogant and selfish.  He is serving himself rather than God, and is often stubborn in his beliefs.

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  The key is working and laboring for the Lord, rather than for self.  We should do what God says, rather than doing what we think is best.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  If we will deny our ways and completely accept the Lord’s ways, we will be steadfast and not just plain stubborn.  Which one are you, steadfast or just plain stubborn?

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