First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. [Proverbs 16:18 (MSG)]
God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, he’ll put those upstarts in their place. [Proverbs 16:5 (MSG)]
Second Chronicles tells of Uzziah, a man who became king of Judah at the age of sixteen and reigned for fifty-two years. A successful and renowned warrior, he defeated both Philistines and Arabs and expanded Judah’s borders. Uzziah was also a great builder; during his reign, cisterns were dug, towers fortified, forts built in the wilderness, and catapult-like machines that could sling stones and arrows were built on Jerusalem’s walls. With God’s help and guidance, Uzziah became famous and powerful.
Unfortunately, along with Uzziah’s renown and success came pride. He forgot that it was God’s power, not his, that had brought him so many triumphs. As long as he sought guidance from the Lord and acknowledged God’s actions, he had success. But when Uzziah no longer consulted God and acted as if God’s laws no longer applied to him, his life took a disastrous turn. The pride-filled king defied sacred law by entering the sanctuary of the temple and burning incense on the altar. The descendants of Aaron were the only ones authorized to be priests and perform the sacred rites of worship. When the priests confronted him, the king became enraged. Leprosy suddenly sprang out on his forehead as God’s punishment for his sin. The leprous Uzziah had to live in isolation and died in dishonor. The once great king is not remembered for his great achievements but rather for his downfall and punishment.
Four of the last seven governors in Illinois followed their gubernatorial terms with terms in the penitentiary. Rather than remembering each man’s achievements, we only recall their corruption. Another Illinois politician was recently imprisoned; instead of recalling his service in the House of Representatives, he only will be remembered as a child molester. Every day we see entertainers, sports stars, religious leaders, politicians, and business people, once great and powerful, who will not be celebrated for their accomplishments. Instead, they’ll be remembered for their cheating, deceitfulness, fraud, immorality, corruption and worse because, like Uzziah, pride led them to believe they were above the law. Instead of a Hall of Fame, their names will be listed in a Hall of Shame.
Indeed, pride does lead to destruction and conceit to a fall. Like Uzziah, we need to recognize the role God plays in our accomplishments. Anything we have achieved would have been impossible without God empowering and sustaining us. No matter how successful, respected, famous or powerful we may become, we must continue to seek God’s guidance and obey his laws. Remembering that our successes are because of God will help us avoid the sin of pride and all the problems that go along with it.
It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. [Augustine]
Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—are just plain sin. [Proverbs 21:4 (MSG)]
Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors. [Proverbs 29:23 (MSG)]
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