But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. 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, 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. When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him. So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.
(2 Chronicles 26:16-21)
When people have power, they often think they can live above the law. But even rulers are subject to God, as Uzziah discovered. For much of his life, Uzziah “did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight” (2 Chronicles 26:4). He battled the Philistines and other enemies of Judah with the help of God. He also commissioned the rebuilding of many areas in Jerusalem. But Uzziah turned away from God, and was struck with leprosy for a grave misjudgment. Sadly, he remained leprous until his death. He is remembered more for his arrogant act and subsequent punishment than for his great reforms.
God requires lifelong obedience. Spurts of obedience are not enough. Only “one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).
Pride can sneak up on us when we make a habit of soaking in our own esteem. While there is nothing wrong with a godly pride in the things God enables us to do, there is a danger in putting too much attention into what we do for God’s kingdom, rather than what God enables us to do.