He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30
The ministry of John the Baptist preceded Jesus’ public ministry. People had speculated all kinds of things about John the Baptist but he was clear that another was coming after him that would be greater. John compared himself to a friend of the bridegroom. We might say today that his spotlight was fading and Jesus’ was coming up. His statement indicates that his popularity and even his ministry would be decreasing as Jesus’ ministry rose in prominence. It was his time. We sometimes apply this idea to our own lives. We must make less of ourselves and more of Jesus. I suggest there is more than one way to think about this.
I’ve always thought of making less of myself externally, in ways visible to the public. I need to talk less about me and more about Jesus. I need to give him the honor and glory for the things that I am able to accomplish. If my solo sounded good, if the sermon hit home, then I need to make sure God gets the glory and not draw attention to myself. But all of that is external attention. It’s attention that comes from other people. What about when I am alone? Where do I figure in my thought life? When I’m driving alone in my car, watching television, reading or studying the Bible, writing blog posts, preparing a meal… do I meditate on him day and night?
It’s not just our popularity that needs to decease so that his can increase. I must decrease my estimation of self. Each of us need to be conformed to the image of Christ. If we have invited Jesus into our heart we need to make room for him. If I make less of me and more of Jesus in my own heart and mind, then what the world sees from the outside will naturally follow suit.