Saturday, December 22, 2012

2 Chronicles 25-26: Pride is the Curse of Success

2 Chron 25:14-12 When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them. The anger of the Lord burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, "Why do you consult this people's gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?" While he was still speaking, the king said to him, "Have we appointed you an adviser to the king? Stop! Why be struck down?" So the prophet stopped but said, "I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel." After Amaziah king of Judah consulted his advisers, he sent this challenge to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel: "Come, meet me face to face." But Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah: "A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, 'Give your daughter to my son in marriage.' Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. You say to yourself that you have defeated Edom, and now you are arrogant and proud. But stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?" Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might hand them over to [ Jehoash], because they sought the gods of Edom. So Jehoash king of Israel attacked. He and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth Shemesh in Judah. Judah was routed by Israel, and every man fled to his home.

2 Chron 26:16-20 But 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. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God." Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him. 

Both Amaziah and his son Uzziah started well. Amaziah, "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly" (25:2) and Uzziah "sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success" (26:5). But when Amaziah defeated Edom and slaughtered twenty thousand men of Edom, he became proud and arrogant--he challenged Jehoash, king of Israel to battle. Jehoash's parable and advice to Amaziah to back down is noteworthy: "You say to yourself that you have defeated Edom, and now you are arrogant and proud" (25:19). Similarly, his son Uzziah, when he became powerful he too became proud: "after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall" (26:16). In his pride, he arrogated himself and took upon himself to offer incense in the temple, which he was not consecrated to do. For this foolish act, he was struck down with leprosy and died a leper.

God has promised us success when we seek him: "As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success." However, success can be a blessing or a curse, depending on our heart condition. As long as we walk in humility and in the fear of the Lord, success will mean little to us, except as an opportunity to give glory to God. But when we begin to think that we are successful because of our own innate talents and skills, we are headed for a downfall because success has bred pride. Pride led to Amaziah and Uzziah's downfall. When we become proud, we can no longer take advice from anyone who opposes us. Amaziah rejected the prophet's advice and Uzziah rejected the priests' advice. One indicator that pride is at work is when we become unteachable.

Jesus' own example is our model for success: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." When we adopt the attitude of meekness (submission to God's will) and humility (without God, we are nothing), we will begin to serve/work from a position of rest, not stress. When there is meekness and humility we will find work/ministry easy and light, not wearisome and burdensome.

Father, give us an attitude of meekness and humility, so that we will always walk in submission to Your agenda and attribute all success to You. Amen.

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