He must become greater; I must become less.
John the Baptist had clarity concerning his calling. It was not to draw attention to his own ministry, but to the person of Christ. HIs role was defined as follows. “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:29-30).
Our task, like that of John the Baptist, is one of introduction. Our relationship with others should enable them to fall more and more in love with Jesus Christ. We wait upon the Holy Spirit to manifest the bridegroom’s voice in their lives. Our joy is in seeing His voice become increasingly manifest in their lives. We need to be available to them as long as it takes to see God’s work accomplished in their lives. At some point, however, we must be willing to become unnecessary to them. As He becomes greater, we must become less. As Oswald Chambers relates, “If you become a necessity to a soul, you are out of God’s order. Your great responsibility is to be a friend of the bridegroom.” My Utmost for his Highest, March 24.
In our relationship with others, we must always emphasize what Christ has done for us, not what we have done for Him. Their gaze needs to be continually directed away from us toward Christ. Although we may be channels of God’s blessings and introduction, it should be clear to them that we are not the source. Our lives must be lived with enough transparency that they can see the light of God shining through the cracks in our clay pots! “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (II Corinthians 4:7). We must be convinced in our own lives that Christ has done all that we need and that He is all that we need. If they see that we are looking to anyone or anything but Christ, then we will have become a stumbling block to them. We will have diverted their trust and dependence away from Christ.
In some business ventures, I have known some who would not teach others fully, holding back some information or needed skill from new employees. They wanted their own position to always be a little superior to others. They withheld knowledge of the job from others in order to keep their own standing as a leader or supervisor. Our goal with others, however, is to see Christ increase in the lives of others to the fullest extent possible. Paul says the following about this ministry in Colossians 1:28-29. So naturally, we proclaim Christ. We warn everyone we meet. We teach everyone we can all that we know about Him, so that if possible, we might bring everyone up to his full maturity in Christ.” Paul holds nothing back in his teaching. He also mentions this in Ephesians 4:11-13. “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
None of us have all the gifts needed fo fully impact others for Christ. We need the gifts of others. To continue to minister to another person without the help of others will foster dependence. In order for Christ to increase His prominence in their lives, we must be willing to introduce them to other individuals, groups and ministries. The Holy Spirit uses the body of Christ, not just an individual. In addition, we need to remember that we transmit our weaknesses as well as our strengths. The presence of other individuals impacting the lives of those with whom we work will lessen this effect. As they broaden and widen their relationships with others, any dependence they have on us will naturally diminish. This is part of what It means when John the Baptist says “I must decrease.”
Some years ago, I had a conversation with a relative about his son. He was discussing some of his desires for his child. He went through a few items that he was hoping to accomplish and at the end of his list made the following statement. “My main goal is that he will become independently dependent upon Christ.” Independently dependent! Having heard this from him, my wife and I then decided that this should be a prayer for our two daughters as well. We knew that there would be an end to what we would be able to say and do. Our influence would diminish and our impact would lessen over time. As this occurred, our hearts were gladdened and encouraged as we saw both of our daughters manifest dependence upon the Lord independently of us! We were full of joy when we heard the bridegroom’s voice expressed through their lives!
Time, distance and other ministry pursuits often separate us from those we have ministered to over the years. We no longer play any role in their Christian walk and service. We have become unnecessary to them. We may wonder if our impact was sufficient to make a significant difference in their life and ministry. The apostle John, near the end of his life, had the occasion to look back on those to whom he had previously ministered as well. In many cases, his influence and input had long since ceased. They had become independently dependent upon Christ. After hearing that the bridegroom’s voice was still being heard through their lives, he described his joy in these words. “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 3-4) May this joy be yours as well as by God’s Grace you hear the bridegroom’s voice in the lives of those in whom you have invested your own life.
In Christ, Richard Spann