Poverty has its challenges. Always living on the edge, each day facing the pressure of trying to scrape together enough to survive—that’s tough. The temptation to envy what others have is ever-present. But, looking at our lack has a way of causing us to lean on the Lord. Having little in this life can lead one to long for the life to come in heaven. It is a humbling existence, but we are reminded that God gives grace to the humble.
Poverty has its challenges, to be sure, but I think prosperity poses the greater danger, spiritually. The more we have, the more likely it is for us to love the material we have accumulated rather than the God who has provided it. We may shift from a focus on the eternal to that of the temporal. The higher we climb, the temptation to want to boast in our accomplishments increases. God resists the proud. King Uzziah was caught in that trap—the snare of success.
2 Chronicles 26 records his story which commences with promise, but concludes with pain. There are four acts in this drama.
Act 1 is a story of ASCENT in verses one through five. The key word is HUMILITY. The Bible says, “He sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” (v.5)
Coming to the throne at the tender age of sixteen, Uzziah must have felt the weight of his responsibility and the lack of experience to accomplish such a job. Imagine sitting on the throne and directing a nation, when most young people are just learning to sit behind the wheel and drive a car!
He looked toward heaven and sought the great King to aid him. We are told that he had a godly teacher, Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. The teenage monarch humbled himself under the mighty hand of God and God opened His almighty hand and blessed the king with long life and much success. Notice, success was the product, but not the object of his ambition. For many of his years, it was the Lord that Uzziah sought.
We recall the Biblical principle Jesus gave, “So don't worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the
and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew
6:31-33 HCSB) Have spiritual ambition to
be all that God wants you to be. Submit
to His control. Seek His face. Irrespective of how much you attain of this
world’s accolades, you will have the applause of heaven; whatever of earthly
accomplishments, you will have treasure in heaven. You can have as much of God as you want. That’s what counts. kingdom of God
Act 2 is a story of ACCOMPLISHMENT in verses six through fifteen. The key word is HELP. Scripture states that “He made skillfully designed devices in
to shoot arrows and [catapult] large stones for use on the towers and on the
corners. So his fame spread even to distant places, for he was marvelously
helped until he became strong.” (v.15) Jerusalem
He accomplished much in terms of his FORTUNE. We read of how nations that he subjugated paid Uzziah tribute money, and with that he constructed many building projects. He increased in the flocks he possessed and the fruit he produced. Uzziah prospered monetarily.
He accomplished much in terms of his FORCE. God made Him strong. He fought and conquered his enemies. When a nation prospers, there are always those who want to plunder their fortune. But at every hand, Uzziah was able to overcome his foes. God gave the victory and he prospered militarily.
He accomplished much in terms of his FAME. His reputation grew with his success. Soon, the name of Uzziah was well-known through the
Middle East. His name became synonymous with
prosperity. The Lord had exalted this
“But…” there is that horrible word. This strong man stepped in a snare—the snare of success. So long as he leaned on the Lord, all was well, but when he trusted in his own wisdom and became smug in his ability to work, he tripped up.
Act 3 is a story of ARROGANCE in verses sixteen through eighteen. The key word is HAUGHTINESS. The Word of God records, “But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own destruction. He acted unfaithfully against the Lord his God by going into the Lord's sanctuary to burn incense on the incense altar.” (v.16)
The clarion caution of Scripture is this: “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 HCSB). The potential for pride is the peril in prosperity. The steeper we climb, the more precarious the perch. Having climbed so far and done so well, we tend to be overconfident, and all it takes is to lose our grip on grace for a moment, then we find ourselves suddenly clutching only air and the fall is disastrous.
If you have prospered, give glory to God! The moment you take that which is not rightfully yours in your hand—His glory—then like Uzziah, you will find that God will be set against you. He resists the proud! What a terrible thought!
Act 4 is a story of ANGUISH in verses nineteen through twenty three. The key word is HUMILIATION. “So King Uzziah was diseased to the time of his death. He lived in quarantine with a serious skin disease and was excluded from access to the Lord's temple, while his son Jotham was over the king's household governing the people of the land.” (v.21)
His appearance was horrifying and humiliating. The crown of gold and the power it represented meant little resting on a head so gruesomely disfigured by disease. All his fortune could not buy a cure. All his force could not drive away this foe. All his fame faded as he was isolated from everyone else. His son became the face of the kingdom instead and when Uzziah died, the obituary said, “He has a skin disease.” So, he was forever marked.
What will people remember about you? What will they recall about me?
Should God bless you with success, keep your eye out for the snare Satan has set in the path of prosperity.