According to C.S. Lewis, our pride is our greatest sin because we hate it in others while simultaneously being unconscious of it in ourselves. Others smell the odor of our pride and are repulsed by it, but often we are oblivious to our own stench.
The story of King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26) is a sobering reminder of the devastating effects of pride in our lives. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. He amassed land, built towns and towers, developed a well-trained army, led a growing kingdom, and enjoyed fame and a great name. But his story does not end with his success.
“But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his own destruction” (v. 16).
As a result of his pride, Uzziah entered the place in the temple reserved for priests. When confronted on his sin, he responded with anger. The Lord struck him with leprosy, and he lived in isolation the rest of his life. His lasting legacy to future generations became simply, “He had a skin disease.” Pride completely destroyed his life.
How can we detect the stench of pride in our own lives? What are some signals?
1. Apathy toward God.
Earlier in his life, Uzziah was instructed in the fear of God (v. 5), but he lost his sense of awe for the Lord. As Uzziah grew in power and fame, he became more impressed with himself and less impressed with God. He had an inflated view of himself, believing he could go wherever he wanted, even into the place in the temple reserved for the priests.
Are you still in awe of Jesus and what He has done for you? Are you still blown away with the bigness of God? The more we are impressed with God, the less we are impressed with ourselves. We cannot strut in His presence as we realize our imperfections in light of His perfection.
2. Disregard for His instruction.
Earlier in his life, Uzziah “did what was right in the Lord’s sight” (v. 4), but as pride filled his life, he began to disregard the Lord’s instruction. Uzziah believed he was above the Lord’s instruction about who was allowed near the altar of incense. After all, Uzziah was the king, his own man. If he wanted to burn incense, surely he could.
Do you long for His instruction and delight in His Word? As we meditate on His Word and apply it to our lives, He causes us to bear fruit (Psalm 1).
3. Resentment of accountability.
When Uzziah was successful, he received instruction from the teacher Zechariah (v. 5). He once listened to godly people, but as he became prideful, he began to shun counsel and accountability. Instead of responding to the priests’ rebuke with humility and repentance, Uzziah resented their truthful confrontation and responded with anger and rage.
How we respond to wise counsel and accountability reveals a lot about our hearts. Are you in a community of Christ-followers where someone has the opportunity to speak the truth to you?