Friday, August 24, 2007

Pitfalls of pride

Every once in a while an e-mail comes my way that I know I must read. It's a brief message from John Piper, who is a Christ-centered, Bible-honoring and God-exalting preacher at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota.

His words on the danger of pride were sobering. Here's an excerpt from what he said to his staff at a recent retreat:

Beware of pride which brings destruction (2 Chronicles 26).

Uzziah became king of Judah when he was sixteen. He reigned 52 years. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. . . . He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:4-5). He became very strong and everywhere he went God helped him. But then the constant and thudding theme of the Old Testament happened again. The best kings fail.

“His fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. 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.” (vv. 15-16). His God-given success proved to be his ruin! He became proud. And his pride expressed itself in feeling himself to be above the law and above criticism. So he entered the temple to do what only the priests were allowed to do.

Azariah and eighty priests who were “men of valor” confronted the king in the name of the Lord. “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. . . . Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God” (v. 18). When Uzziah became angry, God struck him with leprosy in his face, and he lived the rest of his life in a separate house as a leper (v. 21).

Bethlehem, God has strengthened us. We are at risk of this leprosy: “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” What then shall we do? I said two things to the staff:

1) Never let me be above criticism and correction. I invite you to give me constructive criticism whenever you see some attitude or words or actions that dishonor the Lord.

2) Stay close to the cross and never cease to be amazed and thankful that you are saved. People who are perpetually and thankfully amazed that God has saved them are not likely to be destroyed by pride.

For more on Piper, go to



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