Reading Psalm 57, John 3:22-36
Trust God for the Decrease
I’ll be brief. (Do you believe that?) There is a saying among TV evangelists, “Trust God for the increase.” It is usually preceded by, “Send me money and…” Now, I’m not discounting the fact that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) I am also pretty sure that God responds favorably to our generosity, the whole “you can’t out give God” thing. But it does seem that often my approach to this give to get becomes me focused and about my increase, my comfort, my desires.
In John 3, John the Baptist makes a hugely counter intuitive statement. His ministry is falling apart. People are leaving him in droves. They are flocking down the street to the cool church with the hip pastor and the smoke machine on the stage. (My dad was a pastor. He used to say, “Well, we’re not growing but praise god neither are the Baptists.) John’s disciples are following Jesus. Some of his faithful few are incensed about that. They bring it up to John and he says, “Hey, this is the guy we have been proclaiming. He is the One the party is all about anyway.” Then he says, are you ready for this, “HE MUST INCREASE AND I MUST DECREASE.” (John 3:30)
That ain’t right John. It flies in the face of everything I believe as a red blooded, American, see you at the top, swim with the sharks, be your own best self, kind of guy. I mean, after all, isn’t this whole thing about me? Am I not the center of the universe? Isn’t success the ultimate goal and looking out for number one the secret to happiness? Where’s the increase I have been trusting God for?
He increases. I decrease. Simple as that. When I am taking center stage, when everybody is talking about my latest blog, when my likes on Facebook are going through the roof and my videos are going viral then I am missing the point. Here’s another take, when I am winning the argument, when I am getting my way, when this family, or this marriage, or this relationship is centered on me then I am probably blowing it.
Remember we are talking about 40 Days of Reconciliation. And reconciliation doesn’t happen when I am increasing. But the good news is that reconciliation doesn’t happen when the other guy is increasing either. Reconciliation is about Jesus increasing. It is about Him being lifted up, brought to the center, made the most important thing in the moment. Doris and I get into it, (and we do get into it) and as long as I am after my own way we get nowhere on the reconciliation scale. But if I can remember to put Jesus first, to seek to please Him, we almost always figure out a way to solve this thing.
The problem is, I can’t determine to put Jesus first in her. Only in me. And I can’t be sure that she is going to come around and put Jesus first. I can only focus on me and on my effort to “decrease” and my aim to let Him Increase. Well, actually I can’t do that. I am selfish and stubborn and fearful. So, I trust Him for the decrease. I put myself and my self-centeredness in His hands and I trust Him to help me put Him first. Does that make sense? Is it brief?
See you tomorrow. Mike