Jeremiah 18:12 “But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart.'”
Human stubbornness can be really remarkable. Occasionally we find it exercised in admirable ways, such as when people overcome obstacles to achieve good goals, but more often the very word has negative connotations. Here, God is telling Jeremiah how to warn the people of Judah and Jerusalem, but He is letting Jeremiah know in advance how the people will respond. Thinking about it, this scenario has been repeated countless times down through the centuries. Just telling people what is right gets the desired results all too seldom. We know from the Biblical record that this breaks God’s heart, but we bring our own judgment on ourselves. The light in all this darkness is that repentance is possible, and does bring forgiveness. That’s what the Lord stressed in verse eight of this chapter. The point, for everyone who cares about pleasing God and their own eternal destination, is to allow the Holy Spirit to shine in our hearts to reveal what needs to be repented of, and act accordingly. Stubbornly doing evil, as the people did here, carries no benefits at all.
I can think of times I have been stubborn about the wrong things, and the results have never been good. Conversely, I can think of times I have failed to hang in there and work through something that needed to be done. I am aware that even stubbornness isn’t all bad, but rather must be applied to good and not evil ends. I need to be willing to apply myself diligently, stubbornly refusing to give up without God saying to do so, but I must not refuse to follow any path God lays out for me. As a pastor I deal with stubbornness in others all the time. Occasionally it takes the form of diligence, but far more often it reflects the attitudes of those Jeremiah had to deal with. I am not to condemn with words, but I am to warn, and hold out the possibility of repentance. Any time we hang onto our own ideas and plans in contradiction to what God is saying, the results are not good. I am not to assume that I’ve got the only “hotline to heaven,” (which is the human tendency) but rather seek God in all humility, even in relation to things I feel He’s already shown me. As He told Isaiah, His ways and thoughts are always higher and better than mine. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all the training in this issue You continue to take us through. I pray that I would in no way stand against You and what You are doing, but rather be a willing, joyful participant in Your plans, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!