He Must Increase, I Must Decrease

John 3:26-30 (NLT)

26 John’s disciples came to him and said, “Teacher, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you said was the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going over there instead of coming here to us.” 27 John replied, “God in heaven appoints each person’s work. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for him-that is all. 29 The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegroom’s friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom’s friend, and I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

The true test of a person’s spiritual life and character is not what he does in the extraordinary moments of life, but what he does during the ordinary times when there is nothing tremendous or exciting happening.  A person’s worth is revealed in his attitude toward the ordinary things of life when he is not under the spotlight (see John 1:35-37 and 3:30).  It is painful work to get in step with God and to keep pace with Him–it means getting your second wind spiritually.  In learning to walk with God, there is always the difficulty of getting into His stride, but once we have done so, the only characteristic that exhibits itself is the very life of God Himself.  The individual person is merged into a personal oneness with God, and God’s stride and His power alone are exhibited.

It is difficult to get into stride with God, because as soon as we start walking with Him we find that His pace has surpassed us before we have even taken three steps.  He has different ways of doing things, and we have to be trained and disciplined in His ways.  It was said of Jesus–”He will not fail nor be discouraged…” (Isaiah 42:4) because He never worked from His own individual standpoint, but always worked from the standpoint of His Father.  And we must learn to do the same.  Spiritual truth is learned through the atmosphere that surrounds us, not through intellectual reasoning.  It is God’s Spirit that changes the atmosphere of our way of looking at things, and then things begin to be possible which before were impossible.  Getting into God’s stride means nothing less than oneness with Him.  It takes a long time to get there, but keep at it.  Don’t give up because the pain is intense right now–get on with it, and before long you will find that you have a new vision and a new purpose.

–Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest: Special Updated Edition, October 12 entry

Response:

  1. Read Isaiah 55:8-9.  What is an area of your life that you previously refused to turn over to God?  What was it like before and after you finally turned it over to Him?
  2. It is said that, “who you really are is truly revealed when no one else is watching.” With that concept in mind, are you happy with who you are?  What needs to change?
  3. The way we live our lives in the world helps pave the way to salvation for unbelievers.  What part of your lifestyle must decrease and what part of Christ in you must increase to smooth that path?
  4. How can you and the church you’re a part of experience the concept of “decreasing you and increasing Christ in you” on a deeper level?