The Pride of Life

Scriptures tell of a prosperous and good King over Israel, King Uzziah. He experienced success in all he did and God’s favor was on the land.

But as humanity is prone to do, he became proud in his exploits and leaned on his own understanding. 

After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 2 Chronicles 26:16

King Uzziah got a notion to burn incense on the alter for the Lord. But this was not his place. The Levitical priests were the only ones God permitted to burn incense before the Lord--not the King.

Yet he insisted on completing this noble (in his mind) act before the Lord--even against the warning of others. Even against the opposition of eighty (think about that number for a minute...80!!) priests. Still, he refused those 80 men of God and insisted on his own path.

Bent on his own understanding, it was God who finally struck him down (with leprosy).  You can read the whole account in 2 Chronicles 26.

Does this passage speak to you? Do you see any of yourself in Uzziah? I do.

There are times in life where we are needy and helpless and we know it. There are other times (especially after experiencing the blessing of the Lord) that we begin to think we know best. We lean on our own understanding. We defend our actions and become blind to where we may be straying from God’s word. Or perhaps most of all, like Uzziah, we stop allowing others to speak into our lives.

This is the point that I am led to focus on this morning.

Though we may grow in wisdom which comes from the Lord, and though we may experience victories in His name, our deceitful hearts quickly want to start taking credit for the gains, or we may begin to believe that following God has given a superior understanding. If we do not keep careful watch over our hearts, we can soon become too big for instruction and too experienced to be teachable.

Uzziah is an example to us of that downward spiral. A simple rebuke did not change his mind. An assembly of godly men did not change his mind. It took an act of God to stop him from following his own path.

God is good to do this for those who belong to him. Hebrews 12 shows us that discipline is a mark of sonship. If we truly belong to him, he will correct us when we stray--and often through hardship!

So how can we learn from this example? Here are four practical concepts from Scripture which can serve to guard our steps.

Cling to what is good

Each changing season of life offers a different temptation. There are overarching weaknesses we all have, but the sins which lure the young woman may be different than the ones which lure the aging woman.

The pride of youth is in strength and beauty, the pride of old age is in discretion. -Democritus

As we get older we may recognize we have learned a thing or two and begin to think our discretion has been the thing that taught us that. 

Clinging to what is good and godly in every season of life will keep us on the humble path of following Christ and recognizing anything good we have has come from Him. 

Raise your Ebenezer

Ebenezer means a remembering stone: "This far the Lord has helped me." (1 Sam. 7:12) We must look back at all the Lord has done to bring us to this point and not forget that He is the one who will lead us home. We cannot rest alone on our former victories for God--eating the stale bread of former days. We must continue to hunger for Him today and again tomorrow.

As you face new challenges or new heartaches, do you see the Lord in them? Every day is fresh opportunity to trust God. Collect your daily manna from His word, knowing it will nourish you for what you face today.  He has brought you this far! Continue on in the way that has brought you this far. Do not abandon His word or His people as you find the way difficult. Be well supplied from His word and press on in faith.

This far the Lord has brought us, and we trust that day by day, it is He who will lead us home.

Speak with reserve. Be eager to listen.

Do you find yourself presenting a defense for your questionable decisions? Are you like a trial lawyer explaining and hedging? Do you keep speaking so that you can avoid listening?

Cease striving and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

What if we assumed we are like one in need of instruction rather than defending our whys and wherefores? I imagine that is one reason children are so precious in the eyes of God. They don’t mind that they are seen as “not knowing”. May we humble ourselves like a child. Though we began teachable, do we REMAIN teachable? May we be eager to listen!

Be open for rebuke

I wince to write that. I hate being rebuked! It hurts and makes me feel awful. But in the end, if I heed it, it has been for my spiritual gain. And in the end, I can rejoice and be glad.

A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. Proverbs 17:10

I read these pointed words on the Facebook page of a brother in Christ this week. He wrote them as it applies to parenting and I take them as such, but I am also thinking how this applies in general. They are challenging and true.

Parental PRIDE: That monster, which must be fought everyday!

One of the great missed opportunities which could help young godly parents is the lack of people (in the church) willing to admit where they have failed. I try to be observant, and long before we had children, I've been taking mental notes on parenting among the various churches we have been apart of or visited, and I find it very disturbing that most parents (especially those with adult children) will quote "Train up a child..." and claim to have "did our best" (or "all we could") and their advice to young parents is "yep, just trust God".

Are there no mistakes, no sins, no disobedience, no times where they turned a blind eye to this or that? Nothing which they can tangibly point to so others could avoid? Is "well, no one is perfect" even a biblical answer? Doesn't the scripture shed light on how we may honor God in this? --Julius Mickel

All is covered under grace, but surely there is more to our life than just drifting. Where are the pitfalls and are we willing to acknowledge them and then also heed when someone points them out to us? Do we have the heart to sense the good in a rebuke and recognize where we each have turned to our own sinful way? 

Food for thought today.

In Christ's love, Erika