“He must increase, and I must decrease.”

He must increase, and I must decrease.” John the Baptist

John the Baptist was once asked what he thought about Jesus baptizing and attracting crowds. That was John’s ministry, and now this new guy was doing the same thing, drawing people away. When his disciples and some Jews brought him that question, he explained who he was and what his role in the kingdom of God really was. Then he took them one step further and made sure they knew who Jesus was and why it was so important for people to know him better than they knew John. (See John 3:22-36 for the whole story.)

Every time I read this part of the Gospel, I am stopped in my tracks by one thing John the Baptist says, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (3:30). Here are a few, quick devotional thoughts on how to make this incredible declaration ours.

There is no biblical character who encountered God and walked away saying, “What the world needs is more of me!” Every one of them was overcome with their unworthiness and his infinite worth.

There is no biblical character who encountered God and walked away saying, “What the world needs is more of me!”

At no time did this recognition mean that the person ceased in their impact or significance. This is not the kind of thing Eeyore would say, sulking into a hole acting as if nobody cares. It is the courageous declaration of a warrior who has found the One Thing worth fighting and dying for. Every person who has come to this realization has become more, not less. Life with God is a wide-open country. Life with myself is a small, windowless room.

The more we read the story of John the Baptist, the more awesome Jesus becomes. John always points to Jesus. And so it should be for every believer, for every church, and for every sermon – let us leave people looking at Jesus. If a sermon leaves you in awe of what is possible for you if you only have enough faith, you have increased and Jesus has decreased. If a church is built on you becoming a better version of yourself, Jesus has faded in the background and that church has decided that sinners are the solutions to their own problems.

The better way is the one taught by John the Baptist. The world needs more of Jesus and less of me.

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