“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Although containing just 7 words, there is a very important lesson that I am always reminded of whenever I read this verse. Before I truly understood this verse, I tended to shrug off the meaning of the verse, focusing only on the first part, “He must increase”. Upon further reflection, I found the second part of the verse, “but I must decrease” is especially important in my walk as a Christian.
When John the Baptist says this verse, although he is speaking about himself, he gives an important example for each Christian to follow. John, in the first part of the verse, deems it necessary that the reputation and interest of Christ should be advanced (“He must increase”). On top of that, Christ’s reputation and interest need to be advanced at expense of ours (“But I must decrease”). I often find myself forgetting the second part of the verse.
John the Baptist also does not say these words with sadness or despair, but rather he delights in his own decrease as Christ increases. He was not at all displeased that the effect of the advancement of God’s kingdom would be the diminishing cost of his own interest.
Here are 2 main lesson points from the verse that I found myself meditating upon:
- The glory of God eclipses all: The glory that stands in competition with Christ, that of the world and of our sinful flesh, decreases and loses ground in our souls as the knowledge and love of Christ increases and attains ground.
- We must submit cheerfully to God and be content to be anything or even nothing, so that Christ may be all and everything.