Dealing with Defiance
by Charles R. Swindoll
Defiance and stress are inseparable co-conspirators. Together, they scheme to steal your peace of mind.
Although the term defiance does not appear in Scripture, acts and attitudes of defiance often do. No matter what the term, the scene is never pretty.
The same is true in life today . . . but the tragedy is that defiance is frequently permitted and sometimes totally ignored, leaving others in the wake of its serious consequences. Talk about stress fractures!
God never overlooks or winks at defiance. He deals with it, and we are to take our cues from our Lord.
Let's take a quick look at God's attitude, His abhorrence of rebellious acts. Please consider Deuteronomy 21:18–21. Even though this event occurred in the days when the severity of punishment was much greater than today, it nevertheless reveals how strongly the Lord feels about defiance.
I take it, from the way this narrative unfolds, that the person in question is a young man—old enough to live outside the home, but perhaps not quite ready for that. He's living under the roof of his parents but has been demonstrating insubordinate independence. His lifestyle reveals an unbending determination to have his own way.
"If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear."
I remember the first time I read that passage; I was a teenager! In fact, I was getting pretty big for my britches. I thought about those words till very late in the evening, believe me. I can still remember the chill that ran down my back when I realized how seriously God feels about defiance. I was also grateful that I was not living under the Law! The Lord made no provision for domestic insolence, even when the child living at home was approaching adulthood. Defiance is never excusable, never of little concern.
Before proceeding, perhaps I should clarify that this passage is not suggesting that parents have the right to be despotic dictators in the home, mistreating and manipulating their children. No! Please observe that the parents mentioned in Deuteronomy 21 apparently had attempted to work with their son—to no avail. He defied their authority. He refused to cooperate, to curtail his habit of getting drunk, to restrain himself in other things as well. This young man was turning the home into a "hell on earth." He left the parents with no alternative other than to call on city authorities to help, which still occurs today.
Take time to observe, parents! The peace, the moral standards, and the joy of your home are not to be sacrificed on the altar of indulgence. Defiance will send stress fractures through the structure of a home just as it will ruin a life. If you do not deal with it, who will? Believe me, the teacher at school or the minister at church cannot take the place of the parent at home.
In the days of Samuel, there once lived a self-willed king named Saul. On one occasion King Saul did his own thing, in defiance of God's instructions through the prophet-judge Samuel. The prophet was dispatched by the Lord to face the king. Saul excused himself, backpedaled, rationalized, and even denied being defiant. Finally, Samuel had had enough. He looked straight at Saul, pointed that long, bony finger of his and said, "Rebellion is as the sin of divination . . . and idolatry." That's quite a statement! The Living Bible captures the thought in this paraphrase:
For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. (1 Samuel 15:23a TLB)
The next time you're tempted to pass over defiance, remember that analogy.
This devotional is part one in a five-part series.
Excerpted from Avoiding Stress Fractures, Copyright © 1990, 1995 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
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