READ: 2 Chronicles 26-27
THINK: In April 1945, with the United States mired in the middle of World War II, the country’s longest-serving President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, passed away. And his Vice President, Harry S. Truman became the nation’s leader. It was a whirlwind for Truman, who knew that he had a monumental task before him and remarked that it felt as if a heavy weight had been dropped upon him and asked people to pray for him. He also knew that if he navigated the difficult waters well, any number of accolades would come his way. Legend has it that in the very first days of his presidency, in order to remind him to remain humble no matter what the future brought, Truman’s old friend from Texas Sam Rayburn said to him, “They’ll tell you what a great man you are, Harry, but you and I both know you aint.”
King Uzziah could have used a Sam Rayburn in his life. He started off brilliantly, taking over the kingdom at only 16 years of age and leading the people back towards God. He led for 52 years and Judah prospered greatly under his reign. And people far and wide told him what a great man he was. And he made the mistake of believing them and letting his pride go unchecked. But pride and summertime come before a fall.
Uzziah bought into the idea that it was his greatness rather than his faithful reliance on God’s greatness that was making wonderful things happen. And he attempted to assume the role of a priest – a role he was specifically forbidden from assuming because it was set apart – because he no longer felt the rules applied to him. And it cost him dearly. He was disqualified from leadership – struck with leprosy and quarantined for the rest of his days.
It is striking how many great leaders fail to finish well. So many men and women get off to great starts and do amazing things, but end up disqualified because of their character flaws and their sin. And the simple fact of the matter is that pride is at the heart of it. It is so easy to get caught up in our own narrative of greatness, to believe we have achieved on our own the things we once desperately trusted God for, to be self-centered and self-congratulatory, to drown out the voices of our foes and even our friends and embrace only the voices of our biggest fans. But allowing pride to well up inside of us will lead us only to one outcome: we will put ourselves in God’s rightful place and we will fall.
LIVE: I challenge you to confess your pride today. In his incredible book Life Together the late German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this, “In confession occurs the breakthrough of the Cross. The root of all sin is pride, superbia. I want to be my own law, I have a right to my self, my hatred and my desires, my life and my death. The mind and flesh of man are set on fire by pride; for it is precisely in his wickedness that man wants to be as God. Confession in the presence of a brother is the profoundest kind of humiliation. It hurts, it cuts a man down, it is a dreadful blow to pride…In the deep mental and physical pain of humiliation before a brother – which means, before God – we experience the Cross of Jesus as our rescue and salvation. The old man dies, but it is God who has conquered him. Now we share in the resurrection of Christ and eternal life.”
Find a brother or sister in Christ today and confess to him or her the areas of pride that are welling up within you and threatening your ability to live out God’s call on your life and be the person he has designed you to be.
PRAY: Take some time to thank God for all that he has done in your life. Ask him to help you conquer your pride, trust in him always, and always finish well.