Thursday, December 30, 2010
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It happens a lot in sports - especially when there's one of those games they like to call "The Big Game." Two rivals go at it in a game that's really important in the standings, and one team blows out the other team with this huge, lopsided victory. You can almost predict what's going to happen to the winning team in their next game, even if they play some pitiful team that loses a lot more than they win. The guys who totally dominated their rivals in the Big Game may very well lose the little game that follows. It happens a lot. You win big and then, for some reason, you lose big.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Dangerous Season of All."
When you've really won big, it's easy to let down, get overconfident, or just get careless. When you've been the champion for a while, you tend to coast, and suddenly you're not the champion anymore. That doesn't just happen in sports, it happens in life. In fact, it happened many times in the Bible; like what happened to the Jewish king Uzziah, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 26, which is where we find our word for today from the Word of God.
From this story, and many others like it, we can conclude that a season of success in your life may actually be the most dangerous season of all. Uzziah led his nation to new levels of economic prosperity, military dominance, and international respect. The Bible says, "As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success." Notice, God gave him success; see, success is not your achievement. It's God's gift. You don't achieve success, you receive success.
Now, in 2 Chronicles 26:15 we read, "His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful. But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall." What follows is the tragic account of a king who becomes arrogant, self-willed, a man who starts doing it His way, not God's way; and ultimately a man who dies the horrible death of leprosy.
Uzziah's story unfortunately, is not unique. The truth is that very few of us are able to handle success. If you're experiencing a time of success and pretty smooth sailing right now, it's important to realize that you may be in the spiritual danger zone. When you're flying high, it's just all too easy to forget how you got there. Or, more importantly, Who (capital "W"!) - Who got you there. The ancient Jews were given a solemn warning from God when they went from the wilderness to the wealth of the Promised Land: "Be careful that you do not forget the Lord." And, sure enough, they did.
So if this is a good season of your life, don't ruin it by getting careless. Have you allowed your success to inflate you? Are you thinking, "Hey, I'm really something" instead of "He's really something"? Have you moved from the desperate praying of the hard times to less frequent, less fervent prayers now that you're in the good times? Have you started to rely on your gifts, your cleverness, your experience, your strength, instead of what you once relied on - totally depending on God? Are you becoming more self-focused? Are you taking more things into your own hands instead of leaving them in God's hands?
Those are some of the great dangers of success. Don't make God remind you who is the source of everything you've got, because success that costs you the blessing of your Lord is simply success that you cannot afford.