The other day I was doing my devotions and I came across the verse in John that says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) As I read it, I couldn’t help but dwell on these words and think about the different ways it should be applied to my life. Have I truly decreased in my own desires and “rights” so that Jesus can increase and work freely through my life? If you’ve grown up in church, you’ve probably heard this verse a lot. But no matter how many times we hear it or read it, we should never lose sight of how key this concept is for success in our relationship with the Lord.
He must increase. If you look at the next verse (John 3:31), John says, “He who comes from above is above all: he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from Heaven is above all.” So basically, since Jesus came from Heaven and is God, He is above all. It is only natural that He should be King over every living thing. God created us and all that we see.
And not only that, but He is a merciful and kind ruler to us here on earth. I used to read about the Israelites and how, time and time again, they would turn their backs on God and pursue their own idols. And even though they turned back to the Lord and repented of their sins at times, they still fell back into the same old routine of turning away, and then crawling back to God. It gives me whiplash just reading about them. But I would sit there and judge this people for how they just couldn’t get their lives together and fully follow the Lord…and then I looked at my own life. God has been so unbelievably gracious and merciful to me in my failings, so how could I not make room in my life for Him to increase.
The thing about this verse is that it’s not John just kind of politely asking his readers to maybe give God a little room in our hearts. He’s telling us that it is very necessary (hence the word “must”) that Jesus’ power shines through in our lives. And how do we bring about that change?
BUT I must decrease. We can say that we’re going to allow Jesus to increase in our lives all day long, but if we don’t implement the second half of this verse in our lives, we probably won’t see a whole lot of fruit. So what does it look like to decrease? There is so much in this day and age that is begging for our attention and our time: television, social media, relationships, etc. And because we live in a rich country like the United States, we are pushed and pushed to devote more of our time to those things. It’s not that those things are bad necessarily, but in order for the Holy Spirit to thrive in our lives, a sacrifice needs to be made. And that sacrifice looks different for every person. For you it may mean to get rid of Facebook for a couple weeks and spend that time in God’s Word. For someone else, it may mean they need to be more guarded with what they watch on TV.
For me, it seems to be a little bit of everything. But specifically, my time management and focus is what needs to be adjusted. As I wrote in It’s a Slow Fade, it becomes so easy to settle into a routine that doesn’t make enough time to grow in Jesus. But I know that God is faithful to show up when I give Him that room in my life. All I need to do is decrease.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:7-8a