vs. Resistance
Not setting my affections on ideas or plans that could be changed by God or others

Key Verse

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Colossians 3:2

The operational definition of flexibility is “not setting my affections on ideas or plans that could be changed by God or others.” Planning is a wise discipline, but what happens when your schedule is changed? How do you respond when a long-antici­pated activity is unexpectedly delayed? Do you get upset when others dismiss your ideas and suggest their own instead? A person who is flexible realizes that other people may have equally valuable opinions, suggestions, and methods. He also expects life to bring surprises and is willing to adjust accordingly. Because he steadfastly trusts God, the flexible person responds calmly to situations and reduces stress on others. The Lord gives wisdom and grace to understand that plans may need to be delayed, redirected, or cancelled in order to accomplish God’s best.

A palm tree’s flexible trunk and leaves allow it to endure storms, much like a person’s flexibility enables him to adapt to life’s ever-changing circumstances.
Willful resistance erects a wall between you and progress.

The opposite of flexibility is resistance. God reproved this sinful attitude in the Israelites, referring to them as a “stiff-necked people” because they refused to submit to Him. As a result of their rebellious hearts, God chastened them in the wilderness. (See Psalm 95:8–11.) A resistant person is self-centered and opposes change as he holds tightly to his own hopes and goals. He tends to seek fulfillment of his personal desires and control of his own life. When change occurs, he often responds stubbornly because his affections are set on his own will, not God’s. Instead of recognizing the potential benefits, the inflexible person tends to react by complaining, pouting, or arguing. To get his own way, he may belittle a friend’s preference, beg his parents to agree, or dismiss a sister’s suggestion. His pride promotes frustration and resentment, thus disrupting harmony and preventing completion of the goal.

Evaluation Questions

  • Does my response to new direction, such as a family move, show that I trust God for what is best?
  • How can I demonstrate a gracious attitude when I have been disappointed?
  • When plans are changed, do I argue or complain, or do I support those who made the decision?
  • Instead of insisting on my ideas, do I respectfully consider others’ preferences and suggestions?
  • When someone needs help, do I occupy myself with other activities rather than offer my help?
  • Do I avoid or resist requests that are inconvenient or uncomfortable?
  • When someone else recommends a better way of doing something, do I try his suggestion?
  • Do I misuse flexibility by disregarding commitments, by being late, or by not having a schedule?
  • Is my heart in harmony with God’s will so that I can quickly accept changes that may come?

More About Flexibility

The deeper our roots go into the love of Christ, the greater our capacity for flexibility.
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Flexibility with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Anticipate change.

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James 4:13–15

Respect the decisions of my authorities.

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17

Not be upset when plans change.

“. . . The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:8b–9

Look for the good in changes.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:17–18

Make adjustments.

“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound.” Philippians 4:11b–12a

Not be stubborn.

“Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.” II Chronicles 30:8

See change as an opportunity.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2–4

Refuse to compromise what is right.

“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” Psalm 119:10

Be a servant.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5–7

Hold all things loosely.

“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

Flexibility in Scripture

A Change in Plans for Joseph and Mary

“He took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.”
Matthew 2:14b
In 37 B.C., the Romans conquered most of the known world. They brought a system of roads, peaceful rule, and a shared language (Greek) which would later advance the Gospel throughout the world. The Romans appointed Herod as king of Judea. Herod harshly taxed the Jews and rashly executed anyone he perceived to be a threat to his power. During Herod’s tyrannical reign, two humble Jews entered into a covenant for marriage. As Joseph and Mary joyfully anticipated their life together, their plans suddenly changed. An angel appeared to each of them with a significant message: God was coming to earth in human form! Mary rejoiced that she would birth the Son of God! Both Joseph and Mary responded in faith and obedience. Together they adapted their plans to prepare for God’s Son. Not long after, the pagan Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that a census (an official count of all citizens) be taken. Each citizen was required to return to his family’s hometown to be counted. Was this inconvenient decree in God’s plan? How would Joseph and Mary respond? What other journeys would they take and why? Would the couple become upset each time their plans changed, or would they follow God in faith?

Revealed in Nature

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a picture of flexibility as it maneuvers itself into whatever position or direction is necessary to carry out its work. This agile, three-and-a-half-inch bird can fly backward, forward, up, down, sideways, or just hover in one place.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children learn when, why, and how to adjust to the many changes they will face throughout their lives.

View the Flexibility booklet sample:

Get the complete Flexibility booklet with all four lessons & activities:

Free Resources for Flexibility

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“One life yielded to God at all costs is worth thousands only touched by God.”
Oswald Chambers