He Must Increase
One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Gospel of John. Lately in my personal worship time, I have been spending a lot of time there. I was meditating the other day on John 3:30 where John the Baptist says of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This verse comes in the context of some of his disciples, coming to him complaining that Jesus was baptizing more people and gaining more followers than John himself. Personally, I can relate to John’s followers. I am incredibly selfish and don’t want anyone getting more attention or notoriety than me in an area where I feel I deserve it at least as much. But that’s not how John reacts. John uses the analogy of a wedding to describe how he felt, and how his disciples should feel.
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. 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 3:27-30)
John describes Jesus as the groom in a wedding and himself as the best man. John knows that even his own ministry isn’t about him; it’s about Jesus. What kind of best man would go to the wedding and then take the attention off the bride and groom? It goes against the entire purpose of the wedding. It’s a celebration of the union of two people, not the celebration of the best friend of the groom.
John understood that his life and ministry was all about pointing everyone’s attention to Jesus and his love for his bride, the church. What if we looked at our jobs, hobbies, and families the same way that John looked at his life? What if we went into our workplaces everyday constantly telling ourselves, “he must increase, but I must decrease”? What would that look like?
One of the best and most practical ways to increase God and decrease yourself is to constantly point people to God through Shema statements. Shema is the Hebrew word at the beginning of the “greatest command” in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Here, God commands his people to talk of him and his truth literally at all times, like when you sit, walk, lie down, and get up. God and his truth should always be on our lips. The next time your coworkers mention something good in their life, praise God. Don’t just tell them congrats or that you are happy for them. Literally respond in praise to the God who has given your coworker a blessing. Point them to God, and attention on him will increase.