2 Chronicles 26, like many chapters in 2 Chronicles, tells of a ruler from Israel or Judah. Chapter 26 chronicles the life of Uzziah, a king who began his reign at the young age of sixteen and ruled fifty two years. He followed the LORD and prospered, defeating the Philistines and growing strong. However, his strength would prove to be his downfall.
But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 2 Chronicles 26:16 ESV
Uzziah, in his pride, took it upon himself to do what the LORD had commanded only His priests do. After Uzziah gets angry at the priests who try to stop him from dishonoring the LORD, he is struck with leprosy and is forced to live in a separate house for the rest of his life. Uzziah story is a chilling display of how pride can corrode a man. Indeed, many of Israel’s kings, including Saul, David, and Solomon, ended up bringing harm to themselves or others due to their pride.
In Matthew 20, the mother of the sons of Zebedee asks Jesus if her sons can sit next to Him in heaven. The other ten disciples are indignant when hear this. I’m sure that they, too, wanted seats of power next to Jesus.
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 ESV
Jesus’ response to pride and the desire for power is simple. It is the servants who will be the greatest and the slaves who are the first. Humility and a servant’s heart are the greatest weapons I have against pride. Pride destroys and benefits no one while serving others heals and strengthens. In Hosea, God tells Israel to forget their pride and sin and turn inside to Him for help.
I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon. Hosea 14: 4-5 ESV
Pride is an obstacle when seeking God. Inside of asking for His help or guidance, I can be tempted to do everything myself, without thinking of Him. There are many who desire power and wealth, in order to control others, strengthen their pride, or give them a greater self-worth.
“So the last will be first, and the first last.” Matthew 20: 16 ESV
It is the servant who is ultimately the greatest in God’s eyes. It is those who follow Jesus’ example, not coming to be served, but to serve. It is those who forsake their pride and follow Him. It is those who call to Him for help instead of depending on themselves.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Psalm 61: 1-3 ESV
Dear God, please give me a humble heart. A heart that desires to serve instead of being served. A heart that calls to You in times of trouble and in times of prosperity. Please keep pride far from me and strengthen my faith. In Your Holy Name, Amen.