John the Baptist’s words about Jesus struck me heavily recently: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, ESV). The NIV translates this verse as, “He must become greater; I must become less.” The NET Bible is even starker: “He must become more important while I become less important.” Now remember, this statement comes from a man who was uber-popular. People came from towns all around to hear and see this crazy (but powerful) locust-eating preacher who wore a camel-hair coat.
But John understood his place. He grasped the reality of Jesus’ role above his role. John recognized that his primary responsibility was to point to this Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
When you think about it, though, isn’t this our responsibility as well? Aren’t we left here in this in-between time to point others to the Lamb of God? Yet I’m sure that—like me—you secretly struggle with the desire to be known and to be exalted and recognized for your life and ministry—even as you pursue that ministry. Though Jesus said in Matthew 23:12 that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled,” we still crave that exaltation and honor from others.
That’s why John the Baptist’s message here is so instructive and convicting. When we properly recognize our place, when we properly submit to Jesus as the centerpiece of everything in life and ministry, then we will be rightly exalted in His eyes and in His way—which may not be here at all. But when we work on making Jesus more important and ourselves less important, then we won’t as often get in the way of Him working in us and through us. We will also experience His blessed presence more directly.
I’ve heard it said this way before regarding a position of humility and God’s blessing of it: “The river runs to the lowest place.” I want that fresh-water filling as much as you do. So I invite you to join me afresh in setting aside selfish desires and prideful posturing, for the glory of Jesus and so that He might “become greater” in our lives and through our lives. I’m praying for that for me and for you today.