My home town holds a 5K race that coincides with its annual festival weekend in August. For nine weeks, I lead a 5K training group that includes people who want to run their first or fastest 5K race. One of the things I tell them is that they want to finish strong. I encourage them to save up just enough energy to be able to run in strong as they cross the finish line. I tell them that’s where the paparazzi (friends and family with cameras) are, and your finish is sure to be recorded either in memory or on video. I’ve watched numerous marathons where the guy or gal leading at mile 20 is nowhere to be seen when the smartest and strongest racers turn on the after burners in the last 6.2 miles of the marathon. By the time you reach the finish line, it really doesn\’t matter in what place you were at mile 20.
In a way, this is what happened to Judah’s King Uzziah (reigned from approximately 792 BC – 740 BC). He became king at the age of 16, and even at this young age, he understood the importance of following God’s laws and honoring God in his role as king. As a result, King Uzziah was incredibly successful. His list of accomplishments was long, and under his leadership, Judah became a strong and productive country. Sadly, King Uzziah forgot the source of his success and began to think much more highly of himself than he should have. When Uzziah decided he was “all that” and should go ahead and enter the temple of the Lord to burn incense, it was clear that he had lost sight of who he was and who God is. God’s law specified that it was the priests, only, who would enter the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar. Uzziah allowed pride to get in the way of his faithfulness to God, and that led to his great downfall. His legacy of great accomplishments was replaced by separation from his family and all of his people due to being struck by leprosy by God’s hand. God does not tolerate pride, but He does honor humility and faithfulness.
Stay focused on your goal while remaining faithful to God, and your outcomes will lead to great things. Pride, on the other hand, always ends in defeat. No matter what you do, be sure to finish strong.