Jerry arrived at Bible study tonight not feeling so well. He’d been sick for a while, and was sporting a stiff neck. He sat in the chair, barely able to turn his upper body. I imagined taking hold of his head and gently twisting it to relieve his pain.
As I watched him, I thought of the many times God called the Israelites a “stiff-necked people.” God’s descriptive name-calling began in Exodus 32:9, when He sent Moses down from atop Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments and it continued into the New Testament (Acts 7:51).
God’s solution to Israel’s stiff-necks was a change of heart. Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer (Deuteronomy 10:16).
A stiff-neck is like hardened clay: a gentle twist and it shatters, but the more a piece of clay is worked in the warm hands of the potter, the softer the clay becomes.
A little stubbornness, in some areas of life, can be a good thing, but when it comes to a relationship with God, He keeps working and shaping you in His hands. Maybe He offers a gentle twist now and then when we become a bit stiff, but even if we break in His hands, remember that He is both Potter and Healer.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:17).