He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30
I think John the Baptist has spoken some profound words here. But it’s so easy to speak words, even profound ones. It’s just harder to live them out. And I think, when the reality of the truth hits us, when we grasp the reality of the truth, well, it’s a little harder to digest. And I think that it takes a lot of outside help on the inside to actually learn to decrease. It’s a lot easier said than done.
So here’s the background. Well, the night before, You had Your meeting with Nicodemus. And today, You and Your disciples are in Judaea baptizing people. And John the Baptist was also baptizing some people along with his disciples nearby in Aenon. And some of John’s disciples and I’m thinking some of the Jewish leaders started arguing about the ritual cleanings. Well, at least there was some disagreement. And I’m wondering if it wasn’t even a question of their authority to baptize and if it met God’s expectations. Because instead of coming to John and asking about ritual cleaning per say, they are asking about You and how You are baptizing and everybody is coming to You. And it’s seeming to me as though they are not really so excited about that fact, the fact that everybody (mostly) is going to You now.
Which leads me to think about Andrew and John, who are there baptizing with You while these other disciples are wondering why You are baptizing. And that makes me wonder, why are these disciples still with John the Baptist? They heard the same testimony that Andrew and John heard. And John the Baptist is still pointing the stragglers that come to him to this Jesus, to You. Why haven’t they felt compelled to find out more about You? Why don’t they go to the One that John is pointing everyone to?And forgive me if I’m being hard here, but it sounds to me like they are standing back and being jealous. That’s a far cry from Andrew and John’s response.
And then John shares another profound statement. Well, I think it’s profound. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” And I looked up this “receive” or “lambano” in Greek. And it basically means to take hold of, to grasp with your hand. So, no one can get it for themselves unless God shows them. But that leaves me with a bit of a dilemma here. Because God has already started showing them. And in my brief studies this morning, one commentator mentioned a note about the emphasis being on the giver or the receiver. And I think that’s important. See, I think You already gave them what they needed to know at the time to understand, at least the part they could understand so far. But I’m not sure if they had done their part of receiving. It’s like having someone pass me a glass. Only I’m not really paying attention. I think I’ve got it, only I don’t, and it passes right through my hands and falls to the floor. (Yep, this has really happened.) And there goes the satisfaction of tasting what was in that glass. I lost it. I didn’t get it. I let it slip right through my grasp. I never had it in the first place. And maybe that’s what happened here.
Now this gives John the opportunity to share His testimony on You, Jesus, again. And he refers to himself as a happy friend assisting the bridegroom. That’s when his profound words come in. “I must decrease and He must increase.” And then he continues to testify of You. But I wonder if their questioning, maybe their jealousy, didn’t plant a seed of jealousy in John that day. Because soon after, when he was imprisoned, he seemed to have forgotten his profound words. And I’m not trying to be mean here. Intense situations tend to do that in us. Tragedy, trials, losses, pain, suffering, mistreatment, tend to make us rethink our thinking. It tends to bring out the “unpretty” in us. It kind of sifts us and causes us to make sure we know what we believe. It’s one thing to say, “He must increase and I must decrease.” But it’s another thing to grasp it. It’s another thing to experience it coming to be. It’s another thing to hold on to that truth and it to become real in Your life.
And that is such a powerful truth. You must increase and I must decrease. Have I really received that? Have I truly grasped onto all that You have shared with me and shown me? Have I wrapped not only my mind about it but have I wrapped my fingers about it? Simon Peter shares in his second epistle how fellow believers have obtained like precious faith with him. It’s interesting to note that this obtained also means received. But not only that, it means received by lot. In other words, just like the priests were chosen and then accepted their calling to duty, so believers have been chosen by the Lord and given the opportunity to accept their position in Him. The difference between a believer and a nonbeliever is that we have accepted, grasped our choosing or calling. And once we receive this calling, once we really grasp it in our hands, and hearts, and souls, and minds, and spirits, and lives, then we realize how “[H]is Divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and Godliness, through the [personal] knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” This is the outside help from You I need to help me make Your increase and my decrease on the inside a reality.
Lord, I struggle just like John the Baptist. I struggle just like those disciples. In my own ways, which You know, I struggle with my decrease. But, Lord, I want You to continually increase, continually become more of everything in me. And I want to continually lessen. I want to fade into the background and I want You to come boldly to the forefront of me. And I am so grateful that You have given me ALL things that I need to make that a reality in my life, to grasp that for real, to really receive that. I want You to be everything in me. Show me how to keep my eyes and thoughts on You and how it all looks in real life. Take the Words and make them more than Words. Let me receive them in such a way that I grasp them deep inside, so the light bulb goes off, and in the Light, it all comes together and I know how to live it, not just talk about it. I don’t want to just know Your truths, I want to apply it, to live it out. Let me become an example of Your living Word. Let me be more than a hearer. And let me not just be a doer, but let me be an example of You. Wouldn’t it be something to be the “spitting image” of You?