HE MUST INCREASE
Jesus said of his cousin, John the Baptist, “among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). In Malachi 4:5, Elijah is mentioned. Elijah the prophet had already lived on the earth so it was not that he was coming again. In those times when writing about someone with similar characteristics as a previous individual, the same name would be used as they would not know what the name of John the Baptist would have been at that time. The prophet Malachi wrote that one was coming and is referred to as Elijah as he had similar characteristics in his ministry and method. He was the one that Malachi prophesied about (Malachi 4:5). He was the messenger of God sent to prepare the way (Malachi 3:1). He was the voice crying in the wilderness that Isaiah spoke of (Isaiah 40:3-5). He was filled with the Holy Spirit from while still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). He was a prophet of the Most High (Luke 1:76). John was a pretty big deal.
In Luke’s gospel, considerable time is given to describing John’s birth. All four gospels give prominence to John’s ministry. Yet, he quickly disappears off the scene. He had a lot of airplay in the first 3 chapters of Luke, and after that he only has a cameo in chapter 7 and a couple mentions in chapter 9, but that is all. It is rather odd isn’t it?
This didn’t seem strange to John in the slightest. One time, John’s disciples noticed that crowds were really flocking to Jesus, while John wasn’t getting nearly the attention he used to (see John 3:25-30). In response he used an analogy of a wedding to help his disciples understand the nature of his role. Jesus is the groom. John is only the best man. John and Jesus are not in competition. Like how a best man joyfully shines the spotlight on the groom and rejoices in his best friend’s celebration, John’s joy is in seeing Jesus’ glory. John’s role can be summed up in his own words “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
How many of us can say the same? He must increase, but I must decrease. How many of us live to see Christ exalted, instead of ourselves? How many of us are quick to move out of the spotlight, away from the attention, behind the scenes? For many of us, we live our lives with the unspoken motto of “I must increase, you must decrease”. We work hard to make much of ourselves, while diminishing the glory of others. We enjoy the spotlight. We relish the attention and credit. We help others when it benefits ourselves and advances our name.
Do you ever feel jilted when your work is successful, but you are not praised or credited? How do you feel when you work hard and sacrifice for others and don’t receive praise or thanks? What do you secretly feel when your praise is given to someone else?
The Christian life is one that has adopted the mindset of John: Jesus must increase, I must decrease. We live for the fame of another. We desire to live behind the scenes, working hard to shine the spotlight on the true hero. We live like we’re the wedding party, over-the-moon delighted that Jesus is finally getting the glory that He is due. He must increase, we must decrease.
Questions: Have you ever had an experience where you took the glory instead of God getting the glory?
By: Pastor David Jones with excerpts taken from S.K.