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Responding to Correction

How do you handle correction and instruction? Are you willing to receive it? Or do you reject it?

I want us to think about these questions as we look at the life of King Uzziah. He was a good king who sought the Lord and did what was right (2 Chron 26:4). He set his heart to seek the Lord, and as long as he sought the Lord, he prospered (2 Chron 26:6). He won battles and accomplished great things. He even made machines to be on the towers and corners of Jerusalem that shot arrows and great stones (2 Chron 26: 15). Uzziah was off to a great start as a king as the author of Chronicles tells us; “And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he grew strong.”

If only the verse stopped after the word helped. If only Uzziah would have continued to rely on the Lord for help. However, Uzziah did not remain humble; 2 Chronicles 26:16 says, “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.” Uzziah became proud and began to rely on himself. He no longer thought that he needed help.

Uzziah was king, God placed him over all the people of Judah. Yet, that was not enough for Uzziah. In his pride, he decided he could enter the temple and offer incense to the Lord. The problem with this, however, was that this job was reserved for priests. Only men who were consecrated before the Lord for this job were allowed to offer incense. Uzziah arrogantly acted as if these rules did not apply to him. He acted as though, because he had received help from God, he did not have to honor God’s rules. As Uzziah approached the altar, he was confronted by Azariah and 80 other priests of God. These men valiantly stood up to Uzziah and told him that what he was doing was wrong.

Uzziah was faced with a choice. Would he repent and turn back or would he reject the instruction of the priests? Sadly, Uzziah rejected the truth of the priests’ words. Instead of humbling himself before the Lord, he grew angry with the priests. In that instant, as he grew angry with the priests, the Lord struck Uzziah with leprosy. Uzziah spent the rest of his life in a separate house and was excluded from the house of the Lord.

Uzziah did not respond well to instruction. How his life could have been different had he responded in humility instead of anger. It can be easy to read an account like the one of Uzziah and think that we would have handled things differently. Yet, we are far more like Uzziah than we would like to admit. Some of us are like Uzziah, and we respond to correction with anger. Others of us find excuses as to why the instruction does not really apply to us or why we were justified in what we were doing. Or sometimes we half-heartedly accept it without letting it truly sink in. May we learn from Uzziah’s example and be willing to listen to instruction and realize that we need to continually rely on the Lord for help.

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