“Humble, wise people prepare the way for Jesus to be elevated so others trust, love and obey Him in the process.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 17, 2023
He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. John 3:30-31, NKJV
John the Baptist did not stutter in doubt of his role. The unconventional preacher was the forerunner of Jesus, who had complete clarity on Christ as the main attraction. John was the warm-up band for the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ. Bold as he was, his boldness flowed out of decreasing the focus on his ministry and increasing the focus on the Lamb of God, who had come to take away the sins of the world. Great joy came over John as he explained to his disciples the need for humility to defer to the Lord’s salvation and baptism of Christ’s followers. Though Jesus described John as the greatest of prophets…he chose to decrease so that Jesus might increase. John encouraged his disciples to follow Jesus, so their devotion would be to God.
John, though gifted and called by God, was intentional to elevate Jesus’ love to those near him.
I watched my friend, after serving 38 years as the founding pastor of the church where he served with humility and graciousness—give over his role and responsibilities to his successor, a much younger man. Why? How? Well, I can only surmise based on his behavior and long-term example of faithful love. His motivation was what was best for the church, not himself. Indeed, what’s best for the whole seems to bless everyone…in essence, God’s will. My colleague in ministry held with an open hand the process of his replacement, as he remained under the authority of those who would have to live under the leadership of his successor. He trusted the Lord, he trusted those he had loved so well for so long, and he trusted the process. Humble, wise people prepare the way for Jesus to be elevated so others trust, love and obey Him in the process.
“John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me” (John 1:29-30).
Whatever role in life you have, you have influence (positive or negative) over another. If you are a mom, you have a unique one-of-a-kind influence on your daughter. If you are a dad, you have a special fatherly influence no other man has with your son. Same with your spouse. No one loves and respects you more than the one you are one with in Christ. Elevate Jesus for your spouse by making Him your sole worship, your daily communion, and the love of your life. If you are a team leader at work or a volunteer, just the respect your position holds gives you immediate influence you can build upon or squander. It’s a sober and sacred responsibility to prepare the way for Jesus to be elevated in your life to influence the lives of others to embrace the way of the Lord. As you decrease and Jesus increases, you are free from having to prove yourself…you can be yourself. Your best self is generous to give spiritual and emotional health to others.
You elevate Jesus by preparing the way for Jesus in your personal preparation of time with Jesus. John the Baptist was a man crying in the wilderness—not just passionate pleas for others to repent, but out of his own repentance from being in the wilderness. It’s out of being in the wilderness places in life that you are prepared to do life. The Spirit prepares you to walk in humility out of the wilderness of pride, where you were stripped of yourself. The Father prepares you to be generous out of your financial wilderness of fear by experiencing His provision. The Son prepares you to be loving out of the wilderness of aloneness, experiencing His intimate presence. Once you exit from the wilderness…transformed…you elevate Jesus…you decrease…He increases. And, beautifully, others see Jesus in you and turn to Him to be loved.
“John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37).
Heavenly Father, help me elevate Jesus in my life to inspire others to find life in Jesus through Christ’s love, and in Jesus’ name, amen.
Who in my life needs me to elevate Jesus over my desires and accomplishments?
Cory and Anna Asbury: Dear God
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