The High Price of Stubbornness

by David Sisler

You would not be surprised if a man built a fence to keep his neighbor's cattle out of his own fields. But would you think it strange if the neighbor built a fence to keep his cattle away from the first man's fence? Forrest Gump would have had a field day with that scenario.

In Valleyview, Alberta, Canada, there are two farms which have parallel fences, only two feet apart, and the fences run for half a mile.

Two farmers, Paul and Oscar, planted a disagreement and harvested a feud. Paul wanted to graze cattle on his land and suggested that he and Oscar build a fence and share the cost. Oscar said, "No," so Paul built the fence anyway.

When the fence was completed, Oscar said to Paul, "I see we have a fence."

"What do you mean ‘we'?" Paul replied. "That fence is two feet inside the boundary on my land. That means that some of my land is outside of the fence. If any of your cattle sets one hoof on my land, I'll shoot him!"

Oscar knew Paul was serious, so he was forced to build another fence, two feet away from Paul's. Paul and Oscar are both dead now, but their double fence stands as a monument to the high price we pay for stubbornness.

I wish Forrest had said, "Stubborn is as stubborn does."

The second greatest danger of stubbornness is that it hardens the heart gradually.

Consider a man who started out in school making all A's. One night before an important test, he had a chance for a date with a girl who had never given him a date before. He had a choice: study, or go out. He liked the girl. He had the date.

The next day, for the first time in his life, he looked on another student's paper and cheated. No one saw him, he got an A, and he said to himself, "So this is what cheating is like."

A few years later he was working a business deal which offered a 20 percent margin. He saw a way to make a 33 percent. Although it was questionable, it was not a violation of any statutory regulation, and the man said, "I think I can get away with it."

He continued to walk close to the line and continued to succeed. Finally, he garnered a huge promotion. Suddenly he was in a new social circle and he attracted the attention of his boss's wife.

Remembering how easy it was to cheat, how easy it was to shade the deal, he was confident he could have his boss's wife and get away with that, too.

Then one day, he turned around and his wife, his children, his job, his life were all gone. And he cried out in anger, "God, why did you let this happen? Why did you do this to me?

Little by little, the man had hardened himself to what he knew was right and stubbornly followed a path of his own design. When his world shattered, he blamed God.

And that exposes the greatest danger of stubbornness.

The Bible says the time will come when God will harden a stubborn man's heart. Not just that a man will harden his own heart, which all of us have done, but that God will harden his heart.

In one of the most dramatic of all the stories in the Old Testament, Egypt staggered under ten plagues of God's judgment and Israel was delivered from Egyptian slavery. After each of the first five plagues, Pharaoh said, "Yes, I will let Israel go." And each time he changed his mind, hardened his heart, and said, "No, I will not free Israel."

If you were writing fiction, you would not have your protagonist, God Almighty, act in the fashion which He next pursued. After the fifth plague, and the sixth, and right through the final plague, the plague when the first born child in every family in Egypt was killed, the Bible says, "God hardened Pharaoh's heart."

Pharaoh's stubbornness had reached the point of no-return.

Writing about Israel's stubbornness, the Psalmist said "they limited the Holy One of Israel." The Psalmist meant that they drew a circle around God. They told Him, "You can go this far, but we will not allow You to go any farther."

At that point, the Bible says, "God rejected Israel," and they were conquered by their enemies.

Stubborn is as stubborn does?

Except when you cross the line and circle God out. Because of Jesus Christ, it is a line that you do not have to cross.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 8/5/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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