Georges River Congregational Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt – Life in Humility, Death in Pride
Perhaps you have never heard of Uzziah, king of Judah. Early on in life, he sought out the counsel of the prophet Zechariah, who, in turn, taught the king how to ‘fear God’ (2 Chron. 26:5). He defeated Israel’s enemies and fortified her cities (vv. 6-8), and even had enormous success in agriculture (vv. 9-10). He also developed conventional forms of warfare (vv. 11-15).
So far, so good – but his life ended on a sour note. Verse 16 tersely informs us that “when [Uzziah] was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to Yahweh his God and entered the temple of Yahweh to burn incense on the altar of incense”. In effect, he considered himself above the Law (the Torah), which banned anyone who wasn’t a priest from offering incense (Exodus 30). Aaron’s sons had died for doing the same (Leviticus 10).
After storming the temple to offer his illegal incense, the priests demand that he leave; Uzziah refused, in anger, so God struck him with leprosy. Since lepers could not stand in the presence of God – particularly the temple – Uzziah and the priests rushed him out of the building (v. 20) but the king was never the same. Eventually, he “was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper he … was excluded from the house of Yahweh” (v. 21).
Pride cripples a man, causing him to abandon reason. It makes us self-seeking, self-promoting, and thinking the rules don’t apply to us because (apparently) we’re a ‘special little snowflake’. When others warn us to back down, we often don’t, preferring to dig in our heels and hit back. This pride may not manifest in unmasked aggressive anger, but rather a whimpering self-pity – but the results are inevitably the same. It can lead us to do disastrous things, like abusing others and presuming upon God.
Jesus, on the other hand, never once presumed upon His position (Philippians 2:6-7), and He humbled Himself to the Law (Luke 2:22-24). The Son of God (of all people) prayed daily to His heavenly Father, presuming nothing. His life involved suffering, but this was to bless others. There is life in humility, and only death in pride. As we begin this new year, let us repent of pride and renounce it, walking in humility and self-giving like King Jesus, open to change and even healthy criticism, so that we can walk in truth and advertise the grace and love of our Heavenly Father.
God bless, Pastor Haydn.