November 27, 2015
It has happened to all of us. Sadly, we don't often realize its source until it is too late. Everything about the pride that leads to self-promotion is deadly.
Enter David. One of the purest, most humble leaders in human history. At the zenith of God's blessings, ""Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel"" (1 Chronicles 21:1). It is important for us to recognize the source of this temptation, for he will surely come to us with the same proposition. And it may be right at the height of our best days . . . and just as deadly.
Notice that the attack was ""against Israel."" This wasn't about David. Satan wanted to destroy the movement of God and he knew that the corruption of the leader was the key.
“JUST A THOUGHT”
I'm sure David didn't recognize the evil one behind this. It came to him as a random idea. And he voiced it to his right-hand leader, Joab.
""Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number."" (1 Chronicles 21:2)
There's nothing inherently wrong with numbering things or people. In fact, we have an entire book of the Bible with that title. It is there to glorify God by recounting His blessings and should be done when God directs.
But notice the big ""I"" in David's request: ""that I may know their number."" Nothing of God's initiation in this desire. Satan aimed a small, but precise dart of temptation right at the weak place in David's armor (and ours)—the desire to be known. To be recognized as somebody. To be applauded. To seek your significance somewhere else than in God alone.
And this sin, the sin of self-glory, is a direct assault to the glory of God. It robs God of what rightfully belongs to Him alone. Without thinking, we can vainly seek to ascend to His throne to say ""Look at me! I am the great one. Look what I have done."" There is hardly a greater sin. In fact, the first of the 10 Commandments warns us to ""have no other gods"" before God Himself, and that includes ourselves.
PRIDE BLINDS US TO REBUKE
The self-train had left the station and was gathering steam. Joab, David's wise counselor, gently reproved him, warning him that this was going to bring guilt to Israel. But David was so blinded by self-glory that he wouldn't slow down to see the hairpin turn ahead.
The rest of the story is tragic. David numbered the people, which benefited no one, (it never does). God was so committed to the purity of His government among His people and the future purposes of His nation and leader that he brought a discipline that David would never forget.
GUARD YOUR HEART
Why would our enemy not use this tactic on lesser men like you and me? Realize it is never overt—just a ""thought"" you might have to check your stats and see how things are going, and then make sure everyone else knows that the thing YOU led is doing well.
Guard your heart against the subtle sin of self-glory. Listen to others that God may send to bring a gentle rebuke to help you. Heed their counsel and quickly turn before you head off the cliff of pride. Your usefulness as a leader and the future of those behind you is at stake.
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