Success, Pride and Disaster
But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. 2 Chronicles 26:16
I recently spoke in church after which a little old lady (sorry little old lady) approached me to tell me that I had a brilliant mind. I liked that part, but she quickly added that I was too prideful. That stung a little because it’s true. I don’t know if she is a prophet, but her assessment was accurate – at least regarding the pride part.
This has been the pattern of my life: I cause myself some misery in pursuit of me. Then – like the Israelites of old – I repent and return to God. In abandoning my self-destructive behavior, life returns to normal. Success breeds self-sufficiency and pride and soon – again, like the Israelites – I return to my destructive ways.
This is exactly what happened in today’s passage to King Uzziah who began his reign following God, who, in turn, blessed him. Uzziah’s military campaigns were successful and his kingdom thrived. Inheriting the throne at age 16 and knowing only victory though, took its toll. As his strength grew, so did his pride.
In the story, Uzziah’s pride led him to believe that he could burn incense in the temple, a practice reserved for priests. Uzziah’s pride so twisted his mind, that he thought he was doing right. He grew angry when the priests dared to confront him after which, God struck him with leprosy, a humiliating condition afflicting him until his death.
Uzziah’s story is our story. In our success, our pride grows. In our self-sufficiency, our lives become a routine in which a passionate pursuit of God is simply absent. We just don’t need Him. Then in some trial, we seek God, only to abandon Him as life normalizes again.
We may not see this as destructive, but any dependence on self above God, is pride. Pride and self-sufficiency always lead to some destruction, the greatest of which may be simply abandoning God. We were made to live in continual dependence on God and when we abandon that posture, we court disaster.
To live as we were meant to – in dependence on God – requires the daily choice of humility and faith as we turn from our path to pursue His.