All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Napoleon came from a wealthy family on the island of Corsica. He proved himself to be an exceptional military officer in the French army, but he had greater aspirations. By 1799, he ascended to become the “first consul” of France – essentially a dictator. To protect his rule, he reinstated the monarchy that the French Revolution had been fought to destroy. France wasn’t enough; a year later, he was also crowned King of Italy.
Napoleon loved war. His way of getting the love of the French people was to keep his country at war. While the rest of Europe was getting tired of war, Napoleon never did. In 1812, he went against all advice to not invade Russia, and instead waged all-out war. In less than six months, almost 400,000 of his troops were dead, and his army returned to France in disgrace. Virtually all of Europe joined to fight against Napoleon, and in 1814 he was finally defeated.
He was exiled to the island of Elba, but in less than a year he had escaped and raised yet another army. His troops engaged a European coalition army led by the British Duke of Wellington in the famed Battle of Waterloo. Once again, Napoleon’s army was routed. Afterward, he was once again exiled, this time to the island of Saint Helena, where he eventually died.
In virtually every step of his life, Napoleon wanted more, and he was unwilling to listen to others or to slow down his ambitions. As a result, he led hundreds of thousands of French soldiers to their deaths. His pride and arrogance cost both himself and France dearly.
None of us will likely pay that high of a price. But we can still be guilty of Napoleon’s brand of pride. As Solomon wrote, we can be right in our own eyes, but it’s ultimately God who weighs our hearts and our motives. Napoleon (who did not believe in a living God) did things his own way. But we are supposed to “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
This week, pray that your plans and goals are things that are in God’s will and that He will guide you to know which direction to go. Pray that the Lord will help you to humbly stay in His will and that He – and not you – will stay in first place in your life.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.