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He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease

We are just a few days into the new year and by now, you are well on your way to failing accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions. 

With every new year comes a renewed focus. Some focus on healthier habits, others on exploring new places, while some of us are content with just continuing with what we are already doing. Either way, we love a fresh start; a time to wipe the slate clean and begin again. 

As followers of Christ, we have an opportunity every morning for a fresh start. It’s why we are so grateful for verses like Lamentation 3:22-23

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”.

Every morning we wake up and there waiting for us are new mercies from the One who gave us a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). With these new morning mercies comes a reminder of the faithfulness of God. We look back and see His faithfulness and we look forward and know He will be faithful towards us again. His covenantal, unconditional love for us never ends. Did you catch that? It NEVER ends!

The days we live can be played out in one or two ways. We can make our days (which are very short according to Psalm 90:12 and James 4:14) about ourselves or we can make them about Jesus. Obviously for the Christ follower, the answer is to make our days about Jesus. This is what it means to live for the glory of God. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:31

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Just so we’re clear, Paul says that in the mundane things and in everything else, we are to glorify God with our lives. It’s the answer to the beginning question in the Westminster Confession of Faith:

Q: What is the chief end (purpose) of man?

A: To glorify God and to enjoy him forever!

What if we made this our ambition every morning before our feet hit the floor, before our eyes scroll the endless corners of our phones? “Lord, today I will seek to make my day about you and will seek to live out every moment of my day for your glory.” Maybe we could proclaim what John the Baptizer proclaimed about his own life in John 3:30

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

More of Jesus. Less of me. 

Is this not our heart’s ultimate desire? To have more of Jesus than the day before? To know him and the power of His resurrection in our own lives? (Philippians 3:10) To long for the Lord just like a deer longs for water? (Psalm 42:1)

This more-of-Jesus proclamation, this desire to see Jesus increase in our church will be the focus of our next sermon series and will propel us into the focus for the coming year. 

When I say increase, I do not mean church attendance, though, seeing this place close to standing room only is quite thrilling, but the increase I’m praying to see in you and in me, is what John the Baptizer states in John 3:30,

Jesus must increase. I must decrease.

More of Jesus. Less of me.

John the Baptizer was in a very unique ministry. He was called by God to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. His sole job was to point people to Jesus! He did when, earlier in John 1, he proclaimed to the crowd around him, “Behold, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world!” Though Jesus was now engaging the people, John the Baptizer’s ministry continued, albeit behind the scenes. 

He continued doing what he was called to do. He continued baptizing people and pointing them to Jesus, and when he was questioned about the crowds being baptized and following Jesus, he didn’t make it about himself. Rather, he dug his heels in and said, “More of Jesus. Less of me.” He goes on to tell his followers that Jesus is greater than all, better than all and that He is worth following!

Why? Because John knew, deep within his soul, that Jesus is truly God and he was not. And that is why he stated those seven incredible words, “He must increase, but I must decrease”.

His words are very much to be the model for how we live our own lives. More of you Jesus! Less of me! Yet, so often we get in the way. We want to build ourselves up. We want to increase. We want to live the day for ourselves and not for God’s glory.

My heart for you is to see Christ formed in you. For you to behold all He is. For you to grasp his unchanging, powerful presence in your life. I want to see Jesus increase in you. Not just in one area, but in all areas of your life. When Jesus becomes the increase in us, we are free to remove the things that may take us away from what He has called us to be. 

Jesus will have the increase whether we desire so or not. And yet, He invites us to forsake all that is earthly to focus on the One who comes from above and is above all. This year, we will seek more of Jesus by increasing in matters that he has called us to. I’m praying that in these areas that are often focused on us, we shift to see more of Jesus in them.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

decrease, increase, John the baptizer, new year, resolution, sermon

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