It has been said that crisis reveals the character of a man. Our pursuit of success will also reveal the kind of person we are too. Are we the same person prior to our rise? What do people attribute our success to? More importantly, what does God say?
“But 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 Chronicles 26:16).
The account of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26 portrays him as a very successful king. As a young ruler, he was instructed in the fear of God and would seek God’s counsel as he ruled. He did what was right and God gave him success. His fame grew and he became very powerful. Unfortunately, His pride and arrogance led him to think that he could perform sacred duties reserved only for priests who had been consecrated. Uzziah thus committed a grave sin of offering incense to the Lord.
King Uzziah’s worldly success revealed the prideful condition of his heart. The fear of God was replaced by the applause of men. His fame and achievements, which were given by God, became the very stumbling blocks in his relationship with God.
When the Babylonian envoys visited King Hezekiah, he showed them the splendor of his kingdom and all its treasures. But Hezekiah did not show them his God. That incident revealed what was in his heart (read 2 Chronicles 32:31; Isaiah 39:4). This eventually led to his downfall.
It is not a sin for us to be successful. The Lord blesses us with varying degrees of success in our professional and ministry aspirations as we work hard. The defining question is what do our accomplishments reveal about us?
“Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 27:6).
King Jotham was also a successful king, but his achievements were attributed to his steadfast walk with the Lord and God granted him success at every turn. Unlike Uzziah and Hezekiah, he did not allow his accomplishments to destroy him.
God is far more interested in the posture of our heart than our worldly success. Jesus warns us in Luke 9:25 (NLT),
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?”
Our Christian testimony bears witness to our God. Let us pray that when someone speaks of our success and other virtues such as hard work and professional excellence, they will also see the hand of God in our lives. We can make this happen by adopting a posture of humility and steadfast walk with God (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Lam Kok Hiang
Photograph by Patrick Emerson