Bible Study: For God to Increase, We Must Decrease
Written by Jenn Arman | June 6, 2013
Everyone likes to be noticed for something. I’m no exception. We all like to be recognized for the things we do well, and we prefer not to be recognized for those things we don’t do so well.
In the gospel of John, chapter 3, John the Baptist (two different people named “John,” by the way!) gives his disciples a quick lesson about this desire to be noticed.
He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30).
Remember, up to this point, John the Baptist and his disciples have been the superstars on the scene. John is preaching repentance and the coming kingdom of God, and they’re baptizing people right and left. John is getting people stirred up before Jesus even appears on the scene to start His ministry. John is the “It” guy, and his disciples are enjoying the recognition.
Then Jesus appears to start His ministry. He comes to John for baptism, and suddenly two paths open up before John: One leads to pride, the other to humility. John chooses humility. John could’ve become very prideful. He was baptizing the Messiah, after all! Instead, he chooses the path of humility, only agreeing to baptize Christ out of obedience when Jesus tells him it must be that way. John knew from the beginning that his time was temporary and that his job was only to prepare people until Jesus got there.
So Jesus begins His ministry, and now everyone is going to Him for baptism. Even some of John’s own disciples joined up with Jesus–remember Andrew, Peter’s brother? A few of John’s other disciples are getting a little stab to their pride because everyone has noticed Jesus, and they’re no longer in the spotlight.
They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here He is baptizing, and all are going to Him’ (John 3:26).
If you read that verse with kind of a whiny tone of voice, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the situation. John’s disciples were whining because they weren’t the hot new thing anymore. Then John reminds them that he specifically stated that he, John, wasn’t the Messiah and that he had only come to prepare the way for the Messiah. Now that Jesus is here, it’s time for John’s role to shrink and for Christ’s role to grow. This, John says, causes him to “rejoice greatly” (John 3:29).
This story always reminds me of the areas in my own life where I need to decrease so that Jesus can increase. Only when I do that–get out of God’s way–can He change my life and help me conquer my struggles. Only then can He make my life great in the way He always intended it to be.
One area where I need to decrease so Jesus can increase is in my speech.
Girls, are there areas in your life where you need to decrease and let Jesus increase? Share them with us in the comments so we can pray for each other!
John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven’ (John 3:27).
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