Daily D – John 3:30
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. JOHN 3:30 (NLT)
It was only a mild insult, but an insult is an insult. Wounded pride, discouragement, disappointment, irritation, maybe a little anger thrown in for good measure, clouded the otherwise sunny day. You surely know the feeling.
It was just enough to make a person question his (or her) value. For someone who learned at an early age to run from problems, the first thoughts included escape. What else can I do? Where can I go? Who values what I bring to the table?
Before long, considerations of moving to Park City, Utah entered my conscious thoughts. After all, a bestselling author lives there. Maybe we could casually meet in a restaurant in town and become fast friends.
Insults are powerful, aren’t they? They can make a person think and do crazy things. They often lead us to react rather than respond. Reaction is most often thoughtless. Response requires consideration.
John Baptist had a nice run of success. People from everywhere were coming to hear him preach. He was baptizing many. His message of God-honoring Change was sweeping the region. Then one day Jesus showed up. This happened right about the time people were beginning to think John Baptist was the Messiah (Luke 3:15ff). This was his moment of moments. If ever he was going to build a personal platform and profit from it, this was the time.
Every book written over the last decade about success and maximizing earnings potential teaches how to capitalize on moments like this. What did JB do? Read on in Luke 3:16:
John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am–so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
John missed an opportunity there some podcast hosts would say. Then John pointed out Jesus as The Lamb of God.
“Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
John still had a chance to build his empire. Jesus showed up one day in a submissive manner.
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
Matt. 3:13, 14
John, John, John, you will never get ahead and stay there if you talk and act like that. John’s disciples were jealous for him, even if he was not jealous for himself (John 3:26). John explained his line of thinking:
“No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
If most books on success could bear the theme, How to Get Ahead, John Baptist’s autobiography would bear the theme, How to Promote Others to Your Own Diminution.
When that insult arrived this week, it hurt. The good news? It took me from the time I started down the stairs until I reached the floor to remember the words I see and ponder every day when I sit at my desk at work: “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
I became less this week. That was a good thing. What does this make possible? It makes it possible for people to see more of Jesus. That is a great thing.
Maybe JB was on to something after all.
I will become less and less.
Our Father, more of you, less of me. It’s all about you. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”