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Of all the points I’ve mentioned so far from John the Baptist’s life, this one reminds me of what it really means to be a servant and friend of the Lord. John summed it up best when he said,
He (Jesus) must Increase but I must decrease. John 3:30
If Jesus had called people to only be kings, celebrities, and national heroes, He would have had a larger following. Who isn’t interested in being popular, well-liked and loved by all? Who wouldn’t like being on the cover of magazines and newspapers? Yeah, sign me up for that type of duty!
Lets break this verse into two parts. First, are you willing for Jesus to be increased in you and in the world around you? John the Baptist reflected on his position in God’s plan and concluded, “Jesus must increase. My followers must become His followers. His ministry should far exceed my ministry. He must flourish far above anything I am doing. Jesus’ popularity must grow. The name of Jesus must become more important to people than my name.”
It is easy for us to look upon John’s situation and say, “Well that was supposed happen.” This would be true. But maybe it was a little more difficult for John to give away everything he worked so hard to build. The truth is “the Jesus increase” is supposed to be happening right now in our lives as well. The reality is … “the Jesus increase” only happens as “we increase“.
This is hard to explain…but I want to give it a shot. Most every believer I know would state emphatically, they want desperately for Jesus to be increased in them. We pray it, speak it, and try to live it. The issue is not in the first half of John’s declaration. (Jesus must increase) The issue is in the second half of John’s statement. In order for Jesus to be increased, I must be decreased. The truth is when believers are decreased, they begin to fall apart! Most believers don’t actually believe that their personal decrease is a good thing for God’s kingdom. This proves to me that Christians don’t actually find their worth in seeing Jesus increased in their life. No, they only find worth in how God uses them. If they are used by the Lord, then they can bring glory to Him. If they are not used by the Lord, then they cannot bring glory to Him. They actually believe, “If I increase, the Lord increases. If I decrease, the Lord decreases.” This was not what John was declaring.
Believers actually believe the polar opposite of John’s testimony. Lets be honest… Most think along these lines… “I would like to do something really big and important for the Lord. I want to be used. I want to do something that people will note and remember – and do something that will stand out. I want people to know that I am being used by the Lord. I want to be used in a mighty way, so Jesus will be glorified. I want people to know the Lord is alive and well, because of what He is doing in me.” Now, don’t even try to convince me you haven’t thought some of these same thoughts. Lets be real here. I’ve fallen into the same trap. Denial is a river in Egypt. You know what I am saying. What is wrong with this type of thinking, if anything?
If we allow ourselves to think this way, we will only seek to “increase” ourselves and hope Jesus is magnified in some shape, form, or fashion. Understand, this is faulty thinking and not what John was relating. You might be saying, “Pastor, Jesus loves me. He would never have me decrease, because that would decrease His message and ministry in my life. If I decrease, Jesus will have fewer opportunities to make Himself known to others.”
Listen, I have heard it all before and thought it all myself and have come to one conclusion… There is nothing good in you. There is nothing good in me. There will never be anything you can do, in and of yourself, which will bring glory to the Lord. Like John, we must all come to the conclusion…”I must decrease.” It is the only way. According to the Lord, here is what a decreased life should look like.
they were… tortured…faced jeers and flogging…chained and put in prison…stoned…sawed in two…put to death by the sword…went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated…wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:35-38
Are you ready to sign up? These are the real heroes of faith. By the way, John ended up in prison with his head chopped of as well. His life ended just like those found in Hebrews 11. This is what it means to live a life of decrease. The real call to serve Jesus doesn’t seem as attractive when we are asked to become absolutely nothing for Him?
Allow me to offer you an invitation to join John the Baptist. Do you remember your dreams and aspirations when you were still young in Junior High or High School or college? Do you remember how you wanted to be a somebody? Do you remember wanting to make a mark on the world? Most want to accomplish something in their lifetime. Unfortunately, most believers keep this fleshly type of thinking after salvation and simply “inject” Christ into their life ambitions. They falsely believe by simply “adding Jesus” they have resolved their “me issues.” Now they can steadily proceed and when they increase, Jesus will increase. The Lord will never “decrease them” because He will be decreasing Himself.
Here is the problem…. Jesus cannot and will not be “injected” into our life ambitions. Jesus doesn’t work like Betty Crocker. We cannot simply add Jesus into the equation… mix, stir, pour, and bake. According to John, Jesus is the equation. Jesus gives us His equations and calls us to work it out. This always means; He must increase and we must decrease that He might be gloried above all. Nowhere in Scripture are we given the go-ahead to plug Jesus into our own personal agendas. We don’t plug Jesus into anything! Jesus can only take your life and plug it into His!
As you can probably tell… I am passionate about this issue. I have seen too many fleshly productions inside and outside the church, all claiming to be bringing glory to the Lord. I am not convinced. Listen, the world has not been convinced either. I am not pointing fingers…just stating the facts. All those who truly made a “kingdom impact” died to the flesh. They ultimately chose the road of decrease. I beg and urge you to do the same. Bring the Lord real glory. Honor Him who gave His life that you might live.