“Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 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 3:25-30 (ESV)
“Therefore this joy of mine is now complete, he must increase, but I must decrease.” This is the way it goes for disciple of Jesus. We find our joy in Christ, to hear of what he is doing, what he has done. There is joy when we hear of others coming to the faith. There is joy in the midst of our own repentance, in the midst of the crosses we bear for his sake. We decrease, he increases.
We decrease. It is no longer about us. It takes us so long to learn this. It is something that needs constant repetition because every morning our ego wakes with us. This is true of those who work for the church too. We get up and we want to be recognized. We want to be recognized for our preaching. We want to be recognized for our work. Hell, we want to be recognized for our humility. It’s a paradox I live with. Truth is I’m not humble. On my better days I at least want to be humble. But the truth remains, the old adam needs constant drowning, daily drowning. He wakes up everyday, and he goes to work. Ambition drives, and he works for glory. He works for his own glory, for my glory. He wants to glorify me. And pride cometh before the fall. These are words I live by, because they show themselves to be true. When I start feeling proud, then comes the fall. Because He must increase and I must decrease. And the theology of the cross can’t be manufactured, it isn’t faked. IT is truth clubbing you over the head. And yet Jesus and his cross they use it all.
Jesus knows who we are. He knows our desires for glory, for money, for fame. He knows who we are and he isn’t fooled by any false notions of humility, false notions of repentance. We must, must decrease, and he must increase. It isn’t a choice. There is no choice in this. It is the natural way of things. And he uses everything we do, everything we say. And his disciples rejoice in his joy. Because when we decrease, our sin decreases, and it is no longer us, but him who receives the glory.