You may remember the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie trilogy about a scientist father who accidentally reduces his family to the size of insects with his electromagnetic shrink ray. Today I’d like to offer a word of encouragement about a different kind of shrinking, the kind that comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This supernatural shrinkage causes us to decrease while our Lord increases.
He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30 ESV)
These words are contained in the final discourse of John the Baptist in the New Testament’s fourth gospel. God raised up John to be the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ. To say that John’s ministry was “successful” would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. And yet we can find no selfish ambition or self-centeredness in John anywhere. When asked who he was, John made it clear that he was totally content to be what he was not. He asserted that he was not “the Prophet” or “Elijah” or “the Christ.” John was utterly devoid of any narcissism as he played the divine role God had called him to play as a “voice of one crying out in the wilderness” (John 1:23 ESV).
John the Baptist possessed the supernatural strength to shrink because he had Jesus. His identity was in his Messiah, not in his ministry. He found his significance only in his Savior. His purpose in life was rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. John was just like the apostle Paul when it came to his understanding of life: to live was Christ . . . and Christ alone. John’s heart beat for nothing smaller than Jesus, right up until it beat its last at the hands of the sword of the wicked King Herod.
Only those who have their identity in Jesus can say, “He must increase and I must decrease.” John found joy in this truth, the kind of joy that simply cannot be shaken by outward circumstances. John’s joy was an inside job, created by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
One more thing about this incredible shrinking man. John the Baptist said he was unworthy to untie the laces of Jesus’ sandals, a job that only a gentile slave would be required to do prior to washing his master’s dirty feet. This godly man, of whom Jesus said, “Among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28), considered himself lower than the lowliest slave in comparison to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
How is it with you? How are you doing in the area of decreasing? And is Jesus increasing in your life? Remember that these two actions—decreasing and increasing—go hand in hand. Jesus will not increase in your life if your life is too full of yourself. But the more you decrease, the more He will increase; and that, beloved, will make your joy complete!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!