“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30
This is one of those verses I’ve read hundreds of times, but have only recently stopped long enough to realize that it’s no easy task. It’s only 7 words, so you’d think it would be easy enough to wrap your mind around, but I’ve been wrestling with it for some time now. See, I was under the impression that He must increase ALONG WITH me as I increase. This seemed no doubt a task, but manageable. As always, my initial interpretation is much more palpable than what it actually says…
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
I’m all in for the first part of the verse, until I read the ‘but I must decrease’ part.
So i’m learning to decrease…
What does it look like? Great question. I am praying that God would open my eyes to see the ways that I increase or worship myself instead of increasing or worshiping him. I want John 3:30 to be a reality in my life rather than just a nice idea.
Unfortunately, I’m learning that I love ideas far more than realities. For instance, I love the idea of being in shape, until I go running. I love the idea of eating healthy, until I want a cupcake. I love the idea of being disciplined, until my alarm goes off early in the morning. Likewise, I love the idea of being recklessly abandoned for Christ, until it requires me to do something I don’t want to do or surrender control. But when I claim Galatians 2:20 and say that “… it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” that implies that the lordship of Christ is permeating every area of my life. The word ‘lord’ alone means having influence, power, control and authority. See, there’s a conflicting tension right there. I may say with my mouth that He is the Lord, but the cold hard truth is that I—in more ways than one– am living for myself in my heart. I so quickly call him Lord while it’s obvious that I am very much so on the throne in different areas of my life. So I’m finding that along with being in shape, disciplined and healthy, I also love the idea of John 3:30, until it becomes a reality and I actually have to decrease.
I’m convinced it’s an issue of lordship in its simplest form. Who am I going to serve each day (more like each moment, if I’m honest)? Who am I living for? Who is calling the shots? These are questions of lordship. It is so easy to talk the talk and whoop and holler about how ‘Jesus is Lord and he is my top priority in life.’ I can say that all day long, but when you look at the amount of time I spend in prayer or reading the Bible and you put that next to the amount of time I spend on the computer—what do you think an innocent bystander would say my top priority is? See what I’m saying? Oh, but I love the way it sounds to say that He is Lord! The question is whether or not it’s a reality or simply a nice idea.
Now, I would argue that all sin could be traced back to this issue of lordship. Look back to Genesis 3 when Eve ate the fruit. In that moment she had two choices:
What God wants vs. What I want…
is this not the underlying theme of everything in our lives?
All I can say is that I’m glad it was her and not me; I’m sure I would have done the same thing she did.
The situation hasn’t changed, and in my life it seems to be a daily knock down, drag-out brawl of what God wants vs. What I want…. And therein lies John 3:30.
Here’s the best approach I could come up with to learn how to decrease:
Step 1: Identify how I ‘increase’ myself.
-Someone told me that you could find out what you worship by how you spend your money, time, thoughts and by figuring out what can steal your joy. These are likely idols or ways we worship ourselves. I think I may be too prideful to worship anything/one other than myself. Have fun finding out what you worship, and be honest with yourself.
Step 2: Denying myself praise
– If these things are on the throne in my life, I want them off. Facebook does not belong on the Throne with God. Nor do my friends, family, any TV show etc. I’m not saying I will never enjoy any of these things again, I’m just saying I need to get some balance in my life. Again, if my time on the computer is substantially more than my time spent with God, how does that reflect what I value?
- Not sure, but I think some people call this self-control.
Step 3: Delight in denial
Not if, but WHEN denial stinks, and you realize you like the idea a whole lot more than the reality, rejoice. A very common prayer of mine sounds like this: Lord, I’m denying myself worship myself by _____________________I don’t need that, and that won’t make me eternally satisfied like you will. Lord, help me. And receive this very small self-denial as worship.
It may seem a little far-fetched, but I desperately want John 3:30 to be a reality in my life rather than just a nice idea. Here’s to learning how to decrease…
And Here’s to laughin’