Learning from the Wonder Boys

When you hear the words Wonder Boy, who comes to mind? 

The best modern example I can think of is Tim Tebow. Smart, handsome, athletic, and successful, he exemplifies everything a man should be. And when you add godliness to all his other characteristics, whoo boy, he’s a hero. 

In Old Testament days, King Uzziah was Tim Tebow’s equivalent. Crowned before the stubble had fully grown on his cheeks, Uzzy took his father’s seat on the throne at age 16. He was brave, strong, courageous, and creative. 

Second Chronicles 26 elaborates on his qualities, describing his military prowess, his ambitious building projects, and his “love for the soil.” But there’s more. 

If brave, strong, courageous, and creative weren’t solid enough adjectives for his college application, Uzzy was also an entrepreneur. He took other men’s clever designs and produced devices to launch arrows and stones at Judah’s enemies, giving them a serious technological advantage in battle (v. 15). 

Like Tim Tebow, Uzziah loved the Lord. “He sought God in the days of Zechariah.” And God blessed him. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (v. 5). Everyone knew God’s favor rested squarely on his broad shoulders—Wonder Boy Uzziah “had the hand of God on everything he did.” “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong” (v. 15). 

But ...

Oh, don’t you hate those “buts” after a compliment? 

“But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction” (v. 16). Taking his cue from the pagan cultures around him, Uzziah disregarded God’s clear instructions for temple worship. Although only Levitical priests were allowed to enter the house of God to offer incense on the altar, Uzziah barged into the temple, royal robes flapping, swinging his censer. Surely those laws don’t apply to me, he reasoned. I’m God’s favored son. He blesses everything I touch. 

Unless you touch something God has declared off limits. 

“Hold it right there, Wonder Boy,” Azariah, the high priest, flanked by 80 valiant men, rushed in after him. “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God” (v. 18). 

As I shake my head at Uzziah’s audacity, I also recognize that the dangerous ground he stood on rests firmly beneath my feet. And perhaps yours as well. 

Remember the days when you were young and inexperienced. Maybe you were tiptoeing into the college years, stepping into a new job or profession, or easing into the waters of parenting. You knew nothing and sought help from every credible source, especially God. You combed your Bible, highlighting every nugget of practical advice you could find, determined to apply them to your life. You prayed often, asking God to give you wisdom and direction. 

But then you found your professional sea legs. You grew in knowledge and confidence and enjoyed a measure of success. The anxiety eased and people began coming to you for input and advice. You matured spiritually. You could find the book of Amos without looking in the table of contents. During Bible study, you had insight to share. People sought your advice and asked you to pray for them. You grew casual in your faith. 

And herein lies the danger. 

When we grow comfortable and confident professionally, personally, and spiritually, we often forget Who is the ultimate source of our success. Pride appears at the door of our hearts. Sometimes it elbows its way in like King Uzziah did at the temple, shoving humility to the side and plopping itself on the throne only God has a right to occupy. Other times it slithers in, silent and subtle. We don’t realize it’s there until we step on its scaly tail, and it bites us. 

Sometimes we don’t recognize pride because it has as many masks as the Halloween aisle at Walmart. 

The most obvious mask is self-confident arrogance. There’s no need to listen to or consider anyone else’s opinion or perspective because, of course, I know best. 

A more subtle form of pride is independence. No need to stop and pray about a decision, because I already know what’s best. God gave me a brain, and he expects me to use it. Why bother him? 

Complaining is another form of pride. The antithesis of gratitude, complaining says to God, “I don’t like my circumstances. There’s no way you can use them for good in my life. You’re not serving me the way I want.” 

Direct disobedience to God’s Word is perhaps the most dangerous form of pride, as King Uzziah discovered. He was convinced his plan was best, even though it directly contradicted God’s Word. God will be moved by my great idea, he thought. 

And God was moved—so moved he struck Uzziah with leprosy until the day he died. Even the king had to learn to obey God’s law. 

What can we learn from Uzziah’s example? If we want to finish well, we must guard against pride.  

Here are a few ways to do so: 

1. Pray every morning and throughout the day, “Lord, what would you have me to do? How would you have me answer this person, accomplish this task, deal with this situation?” We are most successfully independent when we acknowledge and embrace our dependence on God. 

2. Be willing and eager to consider others’ opinions and insight. There’s wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22). 

3. Practice gratitude. True gratitude acknowledges every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). When we walk through each day looking for God’s blessings, we’re less likely to grumble about what we lack. 

4. Obey God’s Word. This seems like a no-brainer, but how many times do we directly disobey a principle or command in God’s Word? We worry when God tells us to pray. We vent our anger when he tells us to practice self-control. We compromise when he tells us to take a stand. Every time we do this, we declare that our way is better than God’s way. How prideful and presumptuous is this? 

King Uzziah’s story didn’t end well, but Tim Tebow’s and ours are still being written. King Uzziah spent the rest of his life in exile. We can spend the rest of our lives (and all eternity) in God’s presence. 

By praying daily, listening to others, practicing gratitude, and obeying God’s Word, we can resist pride and live humble, God-honoring lives. How’s that for a success story? 

Now it’s your turn. Which face of pride do you find most challenging? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.

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  1. Unfortunately I'm gulity of complaining. Even when I tell myself firmly today I will not complain, I still stumble. But I am a work in progress ;)
    It's so easy to complain in many different ways. We complain and don't realize we're complaining.

    1. Oh my, friend, I am right there with you. Why is it so much easier to complain than to express thanks? But you're right, recognizing, acknowledging, and inviting God to help us with our sinful tendencies means we're cooperating with the good work he's doing in us. Philippians 1:6 is a great comfort to me in those times of struggle: "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Blessings to you!


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