James 4:7 : “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)
Have you ever noticed the differences between submission that comes from faith, and coercion that comes from the world?
The hope is that submission that comes from faith is inspired from Jesus’ life, the loving presence of the Holy Spirit, and similarity with God’s character in verses like 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. If God is patient, if he is kind, if he does not envy, boast, or act proudly, what then for the rest of us?
Submission that comes from faith is a reaction to love. Without love, submission becomes coercion. It becomes an easy workshop for Satan to convince us that we aren’t worthy of love. That not even God would love us. That we can’t even find a way back to him. That there is no point in holding on.
By the power of the gospel, Christian’s know that many of those lies are untrue. While we aren’t worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sake, we are perfectly loved by a perfect God. Christ came not because of our goodness, but to save in the first place. God was never unaware of brokenness. Instead of coming out of a spirit of coercion, Christ came to expose how we all are living under coercion to begin with, and give us freedom that can’t be removed through the power of his own sacrifice.
If stubbornness was all bad, how could we resist the devil? How could we submit to the good things of God, and resist what will ultimately destroy us? How can we have hope that propels us to seek the truth, instead of becoming hopeless in our brokenness?
While stubbornness has long been a well-advertised “character flaw” of young women across cultures, stubbornness in followers of Christ can actually advance the gospel. By resisting the Devil, being stubbornness in hope and the pursuit of the truth recommissions the desire to understand and serve a worthy purpose by giving followers of Christ an outlet to seek the Lord. Stubbornness partnered with discernment is a gift.
Like all other things, the fruit of a spiritual gift depend on it’s intended purpose and how it’s used. Though we are all given gifts by God, we have to come to Jesus to understand how God’s character is also part of our own purpose. Instead of just assuming stubborn people are being “difficult”, why not honor the desire to resist evil, and give it a productive purpose? We waste time trying to change people, and we deny gifts that could ultimately be used for God’s glory. For what?
In the present day, the Church could benefit from better stewardship of stubbornness. Instead of insisting on worldly solutions to worldly issues, seeking the face of Jesus and actively desiring to bring others to the same life-giving faith would be a lot better use of our time. It is not for Christians to become unnecessarily tied up in politics, but to understand the holy desires that either conservative or liberal individuals represent. Transcending the world in order to proclaim Jesus, we’ve got to put the politics aside and remember that all people are looking for a way back to God. It is my belief that we all are looking for God, we just don’t know how to get back to him. The enemy uses that lack of understanding for his own purpose. As it stands, we have a lot more work to do.