“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Seven simple, really hard words to pray. Here’s what I mean by that. When I was younger, a man who had a huge impact on my life spiritually, he challenged me to identify a verse in the Bible that would be your life verse. Like if you could sum up one verse, that you want to describe your life, what would it be? If you can identify one verse that you want to mark your life, what would it be? And this is the verse, that I chose. John 3:30. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It’s John the Baptist talking about Jesus, saying his purpose in this world is to decrease. That’s what he must do, and Jesus must increase. Meaning, John the Baptists purpose in this world was to exalt Christ, not himself.
Lord, You alone are worthy of all worship and praise. Help us to live with a constant refrain in our hearts, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
And I say those are like simple but hard words because this verse, well, I identified as my life verse, I feel like so often it’s just been a constant source of wrestling and struggling in me. Like I think I really do want Jesus to increase as best as I can tell in my heart. Like I want to exalt Jesus. I want to see Jesus exalted. The struggle is, I can so easily turn this prayer into, he must increase, and I wouldn’t mind kind of increasing as well. But to really say, “No, I want to decrease. I want to decrease. Like I want to be totally forgotten. I don’t want anybody to even think about me.” I’m just being honest here, I oftentimes want people to think well of me. I struggle when people don’t think well of me and it’s a constant battle to say, “No, I don’t want to care about what people think about me. I want to live so that people don’t think about me at all. I want to live so the people think about Jesus.”
I want John 3:30 to be my life first, and I pray continually for it to mark my life. And yet there’s this constant to live dead to myself on a daily basis. So, God, I pray for my own life that you would make this verse more and more and more a reality. This verse would indeed mark me. That Jesus, you would become greater through my life and I would become less. Less and less and less and less, in every way. In my own eyes and other people’s eyes, less. And Jesus, you become greater, increasing. And God, I pray the same over those who are listening right now. I don’t know what life verse they might have, or they’ve even ever thought about that.
But God, I pray, I pray that you would increase through their lives. That your glory would be made known, that your love would be known, that your name would be made known and that their names have become less. Less and less and less. Less and less about them, more and more about you. God, I pray this for us, less and less about us, more and more about you because you’re the only one who’s worthy of glory. You’re the only one whose name ultimately matters. You’re the only one who can save. You’re the only one who is Lord and King overall. To think, that in light of who you are, I would ever desire people to think well of me, it makes no sense. You’re the only one who is worthy of all worship and all praise and all adoration.
So God, we pray, you’d help us to live with the constant refrain in our minds, in our hearts. He must increase, but I must decrease. He must increase, but I must decrease. So God may this mark mine, our lives, you increasing and us decreasing. I pray this in Jesus’ name, for Jesus glory, for his increase, we pray. Amen.