Seek the Lord and Succeed

By Pastor Teck Uy

Many stop short of getting the best from the Lord. They start off on the right track but get derailed along the way and stop pursuing that which God set for them as the key to their success. This was the experience of King Uzziah of Judah. He was only 16 when he became king, but did very well at the beginning. He won his wars and his enemies brought tribute to him. His fame spread and he became powerful. All of these happened because he did what was right before the Lord and “as long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success” (2 Chron. 26:5). Indeed, Uzziah’s success was due to his persistence in seeking the Lord. God honoured his service and greatly helped him in all his endeavours. He did very well as a king and he won his wars against his enemies. He also built towers and his fame was known throughout the region because he became very powerful.

But what caused Uzziah to fall from the grace of God? It was his pride. We are told that “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” (2 Chron. 26:16). Uzziah had quickly forgotten his humble beginnings. As a young man, he was clueless on how to perform his duties as a king. However, he succeeded because of the faithful guidance and instruction of Zechariah, who developed in him the fear of the Lord. Things were going well, until he coveted the role of a priest, which he was not anointed to do. He might have witnessed what the priests were doing and assumed that he could do the job equally well. What he did not realize was that it was not a matter of knowing how to do the job, but the anointing that goes with it. Performing what he was not anointed to do was considered a serious sin before the Lord. 

Until today, many fall from the grace of God because of pride. When success gets to their head, they act as if they have unlimited power and influence. They do things as they please, without regard for the limits set. The worst part is that they even get resentful when their attention is called. In the case of Uzziah, he responded with anger when Azariah, the priest, confronted him, saying, “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” (2 Chron. 26:18). Having been instructed in the fear of the Lord by Zechariah, he should have known better. The right response should have been to repent of what he did. Had he asked for forgiveness, the Lord could have graciously forgiven him. However, since he responded with rage at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead.

Uzziah’s case is a classic example of what the Book of Proverbs says: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). There is enough warning when one becomes prideful, but if he remains stiff-necked, his fate is sealed. Uzziah started well, but his end was disastrous. Though he was still the king, he was not able to enjoy his life and discharge his duties—he was as good as dead. From the time he was inflicted with leprosy, he lived in a separate house and was excluded from the temple of the Lord. The worst part of it was that when he died, he was not allowed to be buried among the kings—only in a burial field near them, because the people said, “He had leprosy.”

Pride is the key to the downfall of many great men. It is an act of rebellion against God. One who is prideful thinks that he can do things his way and no longer needs to depend on God, nor give glory to God for his success. Therefore, we need to guard our hearts if we want to receive God’s blessings all the time. Let us remember that for as long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God gave him success, but the moment pride set in, he lost God’s favour. Let us thank God for those who take the courage to call our attention whenever we are tempted to be prideful. Let us also thank them for they care for our lives. They do not want to see us fall short of God’s best for us. Praise the Lord!