There is a story about two trees during the autumn season. One was an evergreen tree and the other a deciduous tree. When the evergreen tree realized that he retained all his leaves, the evergreen tree became puffed up with pride. He made fun of the deciduous tree because he had no leaves. The deciduous tree tried to explain to the evergreen tree that there is no difference between the trees since they were not responsible for their characteristics. The evergreen tree however felt superior because the other tree was bare while he had all his leaves and continually made fun of the other tree.
One winter day, there was a snow storm. The snow fell all around the deciduous tree while the snow settled on the leaves of the evergreen tree. The weight of the snow was more that the leaves could manage and the evergreen tree gave way under the weight of the snow. The deciduous tree survived the storm. Pride can be a dangerous thing. The same characteristics that generated pride in the evergreen tree were the same characteristics that caused its demise. In life there are people who are just like that evergreen tree. They look at themselves with their talents and accomplishments and believe that they did it on their own. For every successful individual, there are countless others with as much talent and abilities who are not enjoying that level of success. When success comes, there is no reason to be overcome with pride.
King Uzziah found himself in a similar situation. He started his life as king trusting in the Lord and because he feared God and sought guidance from Him, he became successful. However, in some instances, success changes people. 2 Chronicles 26:15 says, “But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall.” Uzziah had the same mentality as the evergreen tree. He thought that he was responsible for his success. The verse continues, “He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar.”
You might wonder what Uzziah did that was sin before God. Now God set structure to govern the day to day activities of His people. There were some activities that were restricted to certain members of the group. In Exodus 28:1 God told Moses, “Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests.” There were certain duties that were set apart for the office of the priest.
Pride is dangerous because you begin to believe that rules do not pertain to you. Uzziah believed that those guidelines established by God did not pertain to him and he went into the temple and sinned against God. In those days the offices of prophet, priest and king were separated. Only the priest could go in to the temple and burn incense. The priests on duty understood what God required and stood up to him in verse 18, “They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this! “
Uzziah couldn’t believe that the priests dared to speak to him in that manner. “Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead.” God responded to Uzziah in His character of holiness; He punished Uzziah! He was removed from the Temple and he had leprosy until the day he died.
Uzziah did not make himself famous or successful; God did! It is important to fear God in every stage of your life. Uzziah feared God in his youth when he was a young king. When he began to enjoy the blessings of the Lord, he began to take credit for his accomplishments. Paul warns in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” With the blessings from God comes the responsibility to think soberly. God finds no pleasure in a proud heart.