I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Yodit Kifle Smith“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Imagine standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, amidst its grandeur and awesomeness. Would the thought of your own greatness even come to mind? Probably not. It’s natural that whenever we are in the midst of greatness, it produces in us momentary humility. We are in awe and we are humbled.
How much more when we recognize the Matchless Presence and Friendship with God that we have been gifted through the atoning work of Jesus Christ? A gift that we didn’t deserve. Should that not produce in us authentic humility? Should that not cause us to be in constant awe of God as we see Him for Who He really is? Yes, it should. But that’s not always the case with us.
In our fallenness, one of the greatest sins that plagues us is our pride. It’s a sin that is easily detectable in others but hard to find in ourselves. It’s the sin that caused Lucifer, who was one of God’s Angels, to fall and become Satan. It’s the sin that caused Adam and Eve to believe Satan when he told them they could be like God. It’s the sin that continues to fight the very souls of those who refuse to believe in God and even more so, the sin that plagues those of us who have put their hope in Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This sin isn’t going anywhere.
Pride doesn’t sit at the surface so it can be seen. Often times, pride buries itself deep in the crevices of our hearts where only we can hear these whispers, “I want to be seen. I want to be acknowledged. I want to be at the center. I want to be right. I want to be known. I want to be [fill in the blank].”
Now, in and of themselves, to be known, seen, acknowledged, right, etc aren’t wrong. However, they do reveal whether or not our heart’s motives are in the right place. When we want to take the glory from God by wanting those things, we are letting pride take its course. It becomes a serious matter because God has made it very clear that He will not share His glory (Isaiah 42:8) because it wasn’t meant to be shared. It was meant to be praised and worshipped.
We see the example that was set for us in Scripture of a man named John the Baptist who was regarded by Jesus to be the “greatest born of women” (Luke 7:28), yet it wasn’t because he was great in his own terms, it was because he took his role as the forerunner of Jesus Christ seriously. While many questioned John’s identity, he never wavered or was tempted to make himself great. He simply said he was the “voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord…’” (John 1:23).
In John 3, we find that Jesus had entered the scene and was baptizing people. However, John’s disciples noticed that Jesus was baptizing more people than John and they tried to bring John into a discussion of who was the greater one. Again, John knew his role and never confused his role with the reward of seeing Jesus, the Messiah, come. So he tells them, “The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice, Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).
Wow! The humility that we find in these words uttered by John the Baptist is one that has truly seen and known Jesus. John honored his role but treasured the reward of Jesus more than the role of being Jesus’ forerunner. John knew Jesus. He knew that He was the Savior. He knew that He was the One to bring redemption. He knew that He was the True Light. He knew that He was the Bridegroom. He knew that He alone was worthy. And because He knew, it produced in him authentic humility that doesn’t fight for the role but rejoices in the reward of Jesus.
When Satan tries to tempt us with the roles God gives us in this life to be about us, may we, like John, press into knowing Jesus more so that we can utter those same words, “He must increase but I must decrease.”
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
John 3 (whole chapter)
Questions to Reflect on: