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The Weekly Winning Thought

The Most Important 1% of Your Life

By July 25, 2021November 30th, 2022No Comments

“The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance.”

-John Piper

I have recently been rediscovering the pages of the Bible my wife presented to me on our first wedding anniversary more than three decades ago. Somehow I’ve migrated in the last few years to do almost all my reading electronically, and now I’m moving back to “old school.”

As I’ve gotten back to those thin, scritta-paper pages I have found that what was once a road map, is now more like an archeological find. I thumb through the pages discovering artifacts, passages I’ve underlined, and remarks I’ve made of my journey up to this point in my life. Each rediscovered treasure reminds me that I’m a sojourner on a spiritual quest on the road still yet to be traveled, one sure to be filled with many of the same villains and heroes and emotional ebbs and flows as my pilgrimage to date.

My “rediscovery” this week was a passage from 2 Chronicles, an Old Testament book that includes the history of the kings of Judah. In chapter 26 you will find the story of Uzziah, a leader who came to power at the ripe old age of sixteen when he took over after the death of his father Amaziah. Of the six hundred and eighty words that tell Uzziah’s story, I found these fifty-six words underlined in my Bible:

“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. He was greatly helped until he became powerful. But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God (2 Chronicles 26:4-5;15-16).”

King Uzziah won battles, broke down walls, rebuilt towns, constructed towers and cisterns, and foreigners paid tribute to him. He had more livestock than he could count, an abundance of employees to work his fields and vineyards, and an army of over 300,000 men. A contemporary of the Iron Age, he produced machinery designed and built by the very best engineers and craftsmen of the day. King Uzziah became famous throughout the world and “arrived” well.

But arriving well doesn’t guarantee we will finish well, as Uzziah’s last chapter demonstrates.

His story takes a turn, actually a downturn, when he thinks he has outgrown his need for help – that is when he stopped seeking the Lord. He goes from relying on The One True God to being his god – yes, with a little “g”. By the way, gods spelled with a little “g” are always woefully inadequate.

We have all seen this story repeated time after time in the lives of the famous and the not-so-famous. It is potentially “our story” if we don’t keep ourselves spiritually in check. The Bible warns about this move; the move from understanding our need for help to that of believing in our self-sufficiency. King Solomon, the richest and wisest man to ever live said, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Pr 16:18).” The Psalmist writes, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps 121:2).” King David, in Psalms 20:7 stated, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” The way to avoid destruction is to know where your help comes from and to trust that source.

As long as Uzziah had a shortfall – meaning as long as he needed help and not yet powerful – he had a posture of humility. When he reached a position of power, “pride led to his downfall.” What is important to note is that when the sin of pride conceives, it only takes one misstep to bring your entire kingdom down, which is exactly what happened to Uzziah. I love the way The Message version of the Bible puts it: “Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.”

When there is an absence of shortfall, there’s an abundance of downfall. In other words, when we quit relying on God, we are left only with ourselves. This is always a losing proposition.

The last picture we get of Uzziah is that of a disease-ridden invalid who’s been banished from his royal palace and out of fellowship with his Creator. The most important one percent of his story, and the portion that sums up his legacy, is contained in these eleven words – enough to fit on a tombstone; “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.”

How will the most important one percent of your story read? Will it fit on a tombstone? Would you want it to? Want to finish well? Then stay humble. We are a needy bunch, and we need to remember that.

Play to win this week in the game that really counts!

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