DECREASE > INCREASE
In the book of Saint John chapter 3, just after Jesus taught Nicodemus about the “new birth” and requirement to be “born again,” we come upon the ministry of John the Baptist at the Jordan River. At this point in the scriptures, some of John’s disciples began to debate whether the baptism of John was better than that of Jesus. They seemed to be saying to John, “If your baptism is the better, why is it that so many men are leaving you and following Jesus?”
John didn’t build himself up - he had never said that his baptism was superior. He simply said here that he did not have anything but what he had received from heaven.
John was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was the advanced party, the scout. He was simply trying to point men to Jesus. He lost followers, but he rejoiced that Jesus received all the attention. He acknowledged that his season was coming to an end, right before his eyes.
John the Baptist’s ministry was summarized in verse 30 when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
The message is that when Saint John baptized the messiah in the Jordan River, his disciples were the “A”-Team, and then abruptly they weren't. The surge of attention and followers had moved past them and they were now on the periphery. John, his joy, and his season of ministry now complete, was fulfilled completely when he put Jesus first.
As our team gave way to our replacements in July, we had to acknowledge that our work, and season, had come to an end. Our job was not to rest on our good works, but to steward the mission, leave it better than we found it for those would come behind us, and prepare for our next mission.
We must remember that our role is not our reward. Roles will begin and they will end, and they change with the seasons of life. Our reward is in serving as men and women of character, accepting our role, and working unto the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23).
For each of us, we must decrease so others may increase. Make room for Jesus in your life, prioritize His place in your day, and your outlook on life will change.
Postscript: What a gift to now be home from deployment to Kuwait. I purpose to continue publishing E4I's weekly going forward. It is a thrill to send these to you each week and to partner with you as you strive to influence the world around you for God's kingdom.
As we observe the end of summer and transition to fall, may the work and labor of your hand continue to be to God's glory!