Increase and Decrease

Read: John 3:22-36

He must increase, but I must decrease. (v. 30)

We live in a competitive culture. Each person is encouraged to advance, grow wealthier, increase in popularity, and gain followers. While many put self ahead of others, it’s refreshing to see someone applaud the accomplishments and achievements of someone else.

That’s what we see in John the Baptist. Some came to him and said this about the growing ministry of Jesus: “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him” (v. 26). In other words, they were wondering if John felt frustrated or envious of Jesus and was upset that more and more people were listening to him.

John didn’t waver. He remembered his purpose. He came to prepare the way and point people to Jesus. John’s reply in verse 30 affirms his acceptance of God’s plan: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” That wise affirmation should be the goal of every Christ follower.

How can you live with more humility and less desire for attention? James 4:6 reminds us: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” That verse is put into action when you and I love our neighbor as much as ourselves, when we celebrate when God blesses others, and when our love for Jesus increases.

As you pray, read verse 36 and pray for your own faith in the Son as well as those who are currently self-focused and rejecting him.

About the Author

Rev. Steve Petroelje is a specialized transition pastor who serves vacant churches and helps them assess health, pursue missional effectiveness, and conduct a pastoral search process. He is the past-president of the Words of Hope Board of Trustees.

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Prepare the Way