Thursday, September 30, 2010

He Must Increase

Depiction of Increase and Decrease

A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven…I am not the Christ…He must increase, but I must decrease.1

I have always found myself reminded of this particular scripture spoken by John the Baptist in response to a discussion regarding Jesus Christ baptizing sinners and how everyone appeared to now follow Jesus and not John. Rather than take offense at this news, John offers a perspective so rarely given in this type of situation; humility.

The Greek word tapeinos (tap-i-nos’) means depressed, i.e. (figuratively) humiliated (in circumstances or disposition):--base, cast down, humble, of low degree (estate), lowly.

Based on this definition, one would think it implies a sense of shame or embarrassment but I believe the intent is much different. I don’t believe God has any desire to shame, humiliate or embarrass you through acts of humility but there are things in one’s life that humility will put to shame:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.2

Everything you and I have in this life comes from God except these things cited in the above scripture.

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.3

So from a biblical standpoint, exercising humility empowers you to cast down the deeds of the flesh.

It is good then that we thank God for the gifts bestowed upon us out of our own recognition that it is not through my own strength, power and ability that they were acquired; I receive these gifts through the love, grace and goodness of Almighty God.

The Holy Spirit is helping me to understand that if I desire to move into the position of greater faith, trusting the Lord in every facet of my life:

He must increase, I must decrease.

Unfortunately for many of us, our lives are hampered because Christ doesn’t increase. We go through our life wanting more of Christ but find ourselves experiencing less. Less joy, less peace, less grace, less power, less love; we experience less when you should be experiencing more!

Why?

I believe John reveals for us a principle that connects what God gives and my ability to receive what He gives to me. It is the principle of humility; God exalts those who humble themselves before Him. Here are some examples of what is revealed in scripture regarding those who live in humility:

…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.4

Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God, when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes, and wept before Me, I truly have heard you, declares the Lord.5

O Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble; Thou wilt strengthen their heart, Thou wilt incline Thine ear.6

My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear it and rejoice.7

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says,God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’...Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.8

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time…9

In each of these verses, we are instructed to humble ourselves before God, even when the situation dictates how we should act; we must act with humility. This is what John recognized. His followers saw more and more people flocking to Jesus now and their natural response was that Jesus was taking from John. I believe that John recognized that Jesus is Lord, Lord over the baptism, Lord over repentance and forgiveness, Lord over those who follow Him, and Lord over John’s life.

In order for Jesus to be Lord of my life: He must increase, I must decrease.

How?

By resisting the temptation to respond from where our pride and ego reside, we can move to the position of humility. More often than not, we allow our emotions to affect our behavior; this is what happened to John’s disciples. They saw all those people following Jesus and came to John seeking a response. Rather than allow his emotions to affect the will of God in his life, John yielded to humility because he recognized the superiority of Jesus.

When I experience impatience, it is the result of my emotions responding to a situation by declaring, “I’m better than this!” When humility flows through me, I am responding to the situation by acknowledging, “Christ is greater than me.” Responding this way allows God’s patience to have its perfect work in me.

As I meditate on this thought, I began to see what the Holy Spirit was enabling me to discover in my life:

That God calls me to depend upon Him in my thoughts and behavior.

I realize this is not a new revelation for many, but enough Christians don’t truly grasp this truth that it bears repeating. God empowers me with the ability to think and act by humbling myself in His presence. I do this by recognizing that, I’m always in God’s presence. God has given me a solution to every problem I face. This is the fruit God gives to the believer who humbles himself in the presence of God.

Fruit of the Spirit, image courtesy of Cindy Price, Charlotte Bible Study Examiner
Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.10

This spiritual fruit counteracts the thoughts and behaviors I produce on my own.

In my next post, I will continue this discussion.

Father God,

I acknowledge that Jesus Christ lives in me and that I choose to humble myself in your presence. I choose to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of You, I will bring every one of my thoughts into submission and obedience to Christ, my Lord. I give You thanks that even now, You are giving me opportunities to demonstrate humility in my life, that I may prove what is good, acceptable and what is the will of God for me. You've given me the fruit of the Spirit and I want it to be plentiful in my life. May my life honor You in all that I think, say and do. Amen.


Footnotes:
  1. John 3:27-28; 30, NASB
  2. Galatians 5:19-21, NASB
  3. James 1:17, NASB
  4. 2 Chronicles 7:14, NASB
  5. 2 Chronicles 34:27, NASB
  6. Psalm 10:17, NASB
  7. Psalm 34:2, NASB
  8. James 4:6; 10, NASB
  9. 1 Peter 5:6, NASB
  10. Galatians 5:22-23, NASB
  11. Luke 11:10, NASB
References:
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  3. The Layman's Parallel New Testament, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  4. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6


23 comments:

lioneagle said...

Hi MTJ -

This is beautifully expressed with powerful reminders of where we need to be in our relationship with the most High GOD.

Humilty is critical; holiness cannot exist without it. There are some Christians who place more emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit than on the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits are foundational to Christianity. May GOD help us all to focus on that which is most vital in our journeys with HIm.

I heard it said, "Meekness is power under control."

In the Bible it states about Moses in Numbers 12:3, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."

That was said about a man appointed to confront the king of Egypt, Pharaoh.

And the Bible says about Jesus in
Matthew 11:29, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:..."

Yet it states about JESUS in Matthew 21:12, "...And Jesus...overthrew the tables of the moneychangers,and the seats of them that sold doves,"

Yes, indeed those are examples of meekness under control.

Sometimes righteous indignation is necessary...but holiness/humility/meekness can be on display in the processes.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

That's such a powerful post. Humility and humbleness, two qualities that will lead our hearts to God.

Thanks for the reflection. Your blog is always so full of beauty and spiritual treasures.

Thanks for stopping by, and commenting on my story.

Blessings.

Doris

Dean Spencer said...

MTJ -

This post reminds of 1 Corinthians 1:27 which says, "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."

It seems odd to the world for anyone to humble himself. But humility, as you have so eloquently demonstrated, plays an integral part in God's develop of our character. It shows that it isn't about us, but about Him.

But even more than that, humility keeps us grounded. It keeps us from thinking that we somehow have done the work that made us spiritual, when it's all the work of the Holy Spirit.

Great post MTJ! God bless!

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ - There were so many things in this very powerful post that spoke to me. I particularly liked this line:
"there are things in one’s life that humility will put to shame."
Here's why I liked that. I tend to think of the word, humility, as a mild, meek, more passive kind of thing. But that sentence you spoke (the one I cited above) turned that idea on its head. Humility as powerful, a state of heart and spirit that God can use AGAINST the enemy. That was an interesting thought for me. Humility, a heart totally yielded to God and His purposes, will COMBAT the things of the devil. Jesus was NEVER more powerful than when He HUMBLED Himself, and laid down His life. In death, the ultimate humility, HE CONQUERED!
"Christ is greater than me." AMEN...

Looking forward to your next post!

GOD BLESS!

Peggy said...

AMEN & Blessings MTJ -

Awesome thoughts on HUMILITY!

I'm working through a study that I started at home in MN with a home group but did not finish & a friend of mine's online is doing this in her church...church wide... so I'm doing it again & finishing it, on "Life's Healing Choices-Freedom from your hurts, hang-ups and habits" by Jon Baker. We all have them.

All this to say that it's based on the Beatitudes: BE ATTITUDES as I see them... and the first one being
"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God" (an upcoming post)... and I use to think why would any one want to be "poor"... but it actually is to be humble... for one to have humility.

The first step is to REALIZE that we are POWERLESS!!! That takes humility. To admit that we need God to change.

So, I hung on every powerful thought and the great feedback you get.

I am so looking forward to you continuing this discussion on fruit and humility. May each of us humble ourselves and pray... as a nation, as a church body of believers and as individuals in need of repenting. That too takes humility.
TO BE THE ONE TO CHANGE & ADMIT YOU NEED TO CHANGE. We all expect the other one to change but God wants us to decrease, so He may increase.

I love this revelation:
"God empowers me with the ability to think and act by humbling myself in His presence. I do this by recognizing that, I’m always in God’s presence." AMEN!

Always thankful for your prayers that is what drew me here!

Peace in Christ,
Peggy

Carolyn said...

Hi MTJ,

Very good post! We all could use more humility! There's always more room for it in our hearts and minds... it is a treasure!

Thanks for stopping by!

Have a great day!!

Wanda said...

Wonderful post on a topic we don't hear a lot of these days. I too was intrigued at John's response to the lost of followers. He hadn't lost track of his mission, which was to point others to Christ. However, many times pride will keep us trying to keep people clinging to us rather than pointing them to Christ--the one is able to meet all their needs.

Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole said...

Not sure what happened to my comment earlier and now I can't remember what I said! but...

Thanks for that slap upside the head! It felt like you were talking about me in this part...

'Unfortunately for many of us, our lives are hampered because Christ doesn’t increase. We go through our life wanting more of Christ but find ourselves experiencing less. Less joy, less peace, less grace, less power, less love; we experience less when you should be experiencing more!'

That reminds me of this...
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8 (NASB)

I know I need to do this more often

I also love what you do when you are in a situation that you are experiencing impatience. I had to use that today. lol I need to use it more often! Thanks for that and for the lovely prayer!!

Have a great weekend!

Faith Imagined said...

Inspiring words! I am currently working on not responding from my emotions because my pride is usually involved. This sentence rings so true, "God empowers me with the ability to think and act by humbling myself in His presence." Being humble can be so difficult but that is exactly when God can work through us. Thanks for these excellent insights!

Stuff could always be worse said...

Very thoughtful post, humble is needed. I do think about Pride a lot, how God feels about it.
kim

Lloyd said...

Great post. I'm praying this prayer with you. Blessings my friend.

JT said...

I enjoy reading your posts. May God Bless You.

sarah said...

your insight helps me so much. And MTJ...thanks so much for your comments to me and your support. I don't know you...but I think you understand. Want you to know I'm grateful to you...and your posts...like I said....always help me. have a great weekend okay. ☺

MTJ said...

Sandra: "Meekness is power under control" -- What a inspiring experession. Thanks for sharing it along with the scriptures.

Doris: "...leading our hearts to God." -- I can't think of a better way of expessing humility.

Dean: As I began writing this post, it occurred to me how foolish it may seem because humility runs counter to the path of human thinking, but you're right, God uses what the world considers a waste of time.

Sharon: Until recently, I had that same view of humility, but I now see that there is tremendous power in humility. God infuses spiritual strength through my humility.

Peggy: That has been very important for me, to realize and acknowledge that I'm powerless; I must depend on God. I must also remember that what I think, say and do is known by God; humility helps me focus on that truth.

Carolyn: I agree. Humility is a valued treasure.

Wanda: Not sure why humility isn't talked about more; like you, I do believe it is still relevant.

Nicole: That aspect of drawing near to God, highlights the beautiful aspect of relationship.

Alisa: I believe that's when I see the manifestation of God at work in and through me. The important truth for me is remaining humble.

Kim: So true. I must examine myself against the word that I may guard against pride.

Lloyd: Blessings and peace my brother.

John: Thanks for stopping by. Blessings and peace.

Sarah: One of the limitations of virtual communication is the absence of presence; in spite of that, we establish friendship and commonality. Your writing speaks to me and others; the result is that God is magnified. Blessings and peace.

Cathy said...

A great post, thank you. I keep thinking of the verse "humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." I have some posts on Humility under that Label on my blog. Blessings ~

Mari said...

Beautifully written.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Have a blessed dat :D

Pat said...

Good word,good word!!! It is very important to live as humble as we can for this pleases God and encourages others that truly are watching our walk and we surely don't want to lead any one astray.Thanks for your visit and your lovely comment have a real good day.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

In order for Jesus to be Lord of my life: He must increase, I must decrease. Amen and Amen!! :-)

Teresa said...

This is awesome..."When I experience impatience, it is the result of my emotions responding to a situation by declaring, “I’m better than this!” When humility flows through me, I am responding to the situation by acknowledging, “Christ is greater than me.” Responding this way allows God’s patience to have its perfect work in me" this is a great post! I love the insight you give as you reveal your exposed heart before our Awesome God!
In God's INsurmountable Love!
Teresa

asadisae said...

nice blog...

please visit my blog and follow .. thanks

MTJ said...

Cathy: Thank you Cathy, I'll come by for a visit and read them.

Mari: Blessings and peace.

Pat: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Ron: So good to see that picture of you smiling my brother; I always get the sense that it's a good day.

Teresa: So good to hear from you. How is Tim doing? Please know you all are in my prayers.

Asadisae: I will visit your blog soon. Blessings and peace.

Camille said...

So wonderful!!!!

I am so incredibly blessed to have found this blog. :)