READ: 2 Chronicles 26-27, Psalm 135, Luke 2, 1 Peter 2
LOWLY AND SAFE
Uzziah was a renaissance man. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Chron. 26:4), sought God (v. 5), defeated enemies (v. 6), became exceedingly strong (v. 8), loved the soil (v. 10), equipped soldiers who “made war with mighty power” (v. 13), made inventive weapons of war (v. 15), and his fame spread far and wide, “for he was marvelously helped [by the Lord] until he became strong” (v. 15). And then the Lord struck him, he became a leper and lived in isolation until he died.
Uzziah’s destruction was pride. “But when He was strong His heart was lifted up to his destruction” (v. 16). It is exhilarating to be used of the Lord. When the Lord marvelously helps us and courses through our speech, touches through our hands, blesses through our gift, it is life-giving, it is marvelous. It feels so GOOD to be used for good by a good God. In being helped by God we are cautioned to fear two huge pitfalls: The most obvious is to think any good extended was sourced in us. This is the blatant face of pride. The second and more sinister sister of pride is the one that ensnared Uzziah.
It was in an act of worship that Uzziah erred. There was something arrogant in Uzziah’s spirituality. There was an assumption of spiritual authority. Just because God helps us prolifically and publicly in one (or more) areas, it does not mean we have license in others. Uzziah had good counselors, he had a legacy of seeking the Lord, and he had a record of successes. His victories worked against him as he slipped into spiritual pride–a pride that manifested in the way he worshiped. It was not a bad thing to offer incense to the Lord in the temple, but it was not Uzziah’s job to do. Success tempts to overrun the boundaries God sets for us, forgetting that our liberty is not to be used as a cloak for vice (1 Peter 2:16) but as bondservants.
God used His freedom to wrap Himself in swaddling clothes. This is God’s sign: humility. What other God humbles Himself, restrains Himself to His own hurt on our behalf? Because God clothes Himself in humility, this must be the prominent mark of His representatives–especially as they are marvelously helped. How rare it is to see a man or woman grow more humble the more victories they win. How common it is for pride to mark our worship. Woe to us who use the public places of worship as theatre for ourselves, who assume a spiritual role not given to us. How beautiful it is when godly men and women know their limits, win their victories, then sit back quietly in the throng and let others offer incense.