Kicking Against the Goads

When my husband Billy came home from work the other day…I asked him the same question I ask him every day when he comes home… “How was your day?” He usually responds with a simple “Good!” …with really no explanation or elaboration.

Not surprising at all since…in general…men speak in headlines…while women speak in paragraphs! Us women sure love to expand and elaborate with more details…don’t we?!

And I did say…“in general”… because there are certainly some exceptions out there.

On this particular day…however… my interest was peaked as Billy didn’t share his usual “Good!” …but instead shared with me that it was a challenging day at work for him.

He began to explain to me that a new employee that he works with was…“kicking against the goads!”

Now…I don’t know about you…but…“kicking against the goads” isn’t a normal phrase that comes up in everyday conversation!

I looked at him blankly but with a heightened curiosity… “Ok what exactly do you mean by that?”

He went on to explain that his new co-worker was complaining about the way things were going at work.

Billy explained to him that the organization they work for has the current system and programs set into motion for a reason. And as employees…we are to follow what has been put into place and not fight against it with complaints.

Not that its dictatorship or anything…because there certainly is a time and place for new ideas to be implemented…but more importantly…Billy shared with his coworker…is following what our bosses tell us…instead of fighting against it and complaining!

It’s important that we aren’t “kicking against the goads!”

Now what exactly does this mean? And…as Christians…how is this term relevant to us?

“Kicking against the goads” is actually a biblical expression and refers to the account of the conversion of Saul to Paul in Acts 26.

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Acts 26:14 NIV

Some bible translations actually say… “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks

“It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” is a proverb that was used often by both Latin and Greek writers. The word for “pricks” in the Greek is kentron… which means a “point” or “goad.”

A goad is a stick with a pointed piece of iron fastened to the end of it. It was used to prod the oxen on when farmers plowed. When a stubborn ox attempted to kick back against the goads (pricks)… the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg. The more the oxen kicked…the more he would actually wound himself …thereby causing greater pain.

Many of you may be familiar with the initial account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:5. Interestingly…the expression about “kicking against the goads” doesn’t appear until this story of Saul’s conversion is shared with King Agrippa in Acts 26:12-18.

To summarize…

Saul was rebelling against God. God had been trying to urge him to go in a certain direction…but Saul was resisting against God and against His ways.

And as a result…Saul was hurting others… and he was also hurting himself.

Remember Saul persecuted Christians! And furthermore…he didn’t just persecute Christians…he actually persecuted Christ!

His self-righteousness and zeal became uncontrolled as he captured Christians…followers of Jesus…chained them and brought them back to Jerusalem for punishment. Consequently…many Christians died.

As Saul was nearing Damascus on his mission…the Lord met him and blinded him with a bright shining light from heaven.

12On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

15Then I asked, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. 16 “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

So how about you? Are you “kicking against the goads” today?

Now of course you aren’t persecuting Christians like Saul…but are you “kicking against the goads” …resisting God and/or His commands today?

Maybe your “kicking against the goads” is not so obvious…

Is there an area of your life God is wanting you to change…or turn away from? An area of sin that goes against God and His Word?

Sexual immorality…unforgiveness…anger…bitterness…lying…cheating…gossip…pride… jealousy?

Ok…maybe it’s even less obvious…

How about your attitude…your thoughts…your spoken words? Are they Christ-like?

Whether you are a new Christian or have been a Christian for years…we all sin! …myself included!

Whatever area we may struggle in…it’s so important that we stop “kicking against the goads” …turn away (repent)…turn to God…ask for forgiveness…and pray for God’s strength!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… Acts 3:19 NIV

Saul…in resisting the teachings of Jesus…was “kicking against the goads.” He was fighting against Jesus…who would be the greatest authority on earth. Saul’s resistance actually resulted in greater suffering…demonstrating the lesson intended by the proverb.

This example of kicking against the goads was used to teach the lesson that it was foolish to rebel against God-given authority…and any attempt to do so would simply result in much greater distress and discomfort.

Just like the stubborn ox…the more a stubborn ox kicks back against the goads… the greater the pain.

The more we “kick against the goads” …the greater the distress…discomfort…and pain we ultimately experience and cause ourselves.

I will leave you with this…

It’s always important as Christians to do a self-examination and we can begin by praying Psalm 139:23-24 to God.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

 

Reflection Points:

1.So how about you? Are you “kicking against the goads” today? Are you “kicking against the goads” …resisting God and/or His commands today?

2. Is there an area of your life God is wanting you to change…or turn away from? An area of sin that goes against God and His Word? Ie. Sexual immorality… unforgiveness… anger…bitterness…lying…cheating…gossip…pride… jealousy?

3. How about your attitude…your thoughts…your spoken words?

Action Points:

1.God’s desire for us is that we obey Him and His commands. This pleases Him and shows our love to Him.

If you love me, you will obey my commandments. John 14:15 NET 

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NL

2. Pray and ask God to show you any areas that you may be “kicking against the goads” if it isn’t obvious or clear to you.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

3. Whatever area we may struggle in…it’s so important that we stop “kicking against the goads” …turn away (repent)…turn to God…ask for forgiveness…and pray for God’s strength!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… Acts 3:19 NIV

And of course there are benefits to obeying God…We receive protection…favor…promotion…blessings…not just in heaven but here on earth as well!

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 NIV

 

 

 

 

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