Summary: If it hadn’t been for his stubbornness we might never have known what this older brother really was. So let’s look at him, & then look at ourselves. "What kind of person am I?" (PowerPoints Available - #289)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #289.)
ILL. A number of years ago, after announcing that I was going to preach on the subject of stubbornness I had several interesting reactions. A couple of people told me "I know someone who needs to hear that sermon." And one lady even volunteered to let me use her husband as a horrible example.
A. Hosea 4:16 says, “The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer.” Now, we have heard about someone being “as stubborn as a mule,” but this verse says that the people of Israel were as stubborn as a heifer.
ILL. A friend of mine who lived on a farm said that his grandpa always had him do the "fun" stuff, like slopping the pigs & trying to round up the heifers.
He discovered that wherever you want heifers to go, that's exactly where they're not going to go. They'll stand out in the rain before they will come inside the barn, if that is where you want them, because a heifer is stubborn.
Now, to be stubborn means, in effect, that you plant both feet on the ground, clench your fists & say, "I'm right, & I don't care what anybody else says. That's the way it’s going to be."
ILL. The Bible contains many examples of stubbornness. Probably one of the best-known examples would have to be Pharaoh. You know the story. God said, "Let my people go," but Pharaoh was stubborn & wouldn't let them go.
So God sent the plagues, & after each plague Pharaoh cries out, "OK, I'll let the people go." But after God lifted the plagues, each time it says that Pharaoh "hardened his heart." He wouldn't let the people go. The end result was the 10th plague, the death of the first born in every Egyptian home the result of stubbornness.
The difficulty is that most people don't realize just how devastating stubbornness can be. Our stubbornness builds walls around us, instead of bridges. And we end up in our own stubborn, opinionated little world.
So the subject this morning is "The Horribleness of Stubbornness."
B. But maybe the best example for us to consider is found in Luke 15 in the story of the prodigal son. In fact, there are 3 stories in that parable.
Story #1 is about the prodigal who went into the far country, squandered all his money in wild living, & then finally went back home.
Story #2 is about the father who watched & waited anxiously for his son to return. And when he did, welcomed him with love, & even threw a party for him.
Finally, there is the older brother who usually goes almost unnoticed when we read this parable. He is a perfect example of stubbornness & its results.
C. Listen to Luke 15:25-27. "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music & dancing. So he called one of the servants & asked him what was going on.
'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe & sound.'"
Now how does this older brother respond to that? He has just heard some good news. His brother who had been gone so long is back home safe & sound.
And if we weren’t already very familiar with the story we would expect the older brother to rejoice. We'd expect him to say, "I'm going to the party! I can hardly wait to see him. I'm glad he's home!"
But as you know, his response was just the opposite. Vs. 28 says, "The older brother became angry & refused to go in." He planted his feet on the ground. He clenched his fists. He stubbornly refused to go in.
Now look at vs’s 29-32, "So his father went out & pleaded with him." Some translations say, "He begged him to come in."
"But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I have been slaving for you & never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
"But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"
"'My son,' the father said, 'You are always with me, & everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate & be glad, because this brother of yours was dead & is alive again; he was lost & is found.'"
D. Now can you see that older brother standing there while everybody else has gone to the party? There is music & laughter & celebration! Everybody is having a great time, except this older brother who refuses to go to the party. And because of his stubbornness, he imprisons himself behind a wall of bitterness.