It is the lifetime work for all of us to do what John the Baptizer said so succinctly 2,000 years ago. As his own ministry was fading in popularity and preeminence, John declared to those asking him why this was happening that his mission was to decrease from that point forward so that the focus on Jesus Christ might increase. This same release must come to own your heart’s motivation and mine as Christians. We must not be content to quote John but to emulate him in this manner of living as he swapped his limelight for the shade. A thousand times a day we are presented with opportunity to either inflate ourselves at the expense of God’s glory in our lives or either to humble ourselves so that He alone would be magnified. I must decrease so that He might increase. This does not nullify grace but actually serves as a conduit for glorious grace to become active in our lives. Some may be tempted to think that this would lead to a miserable existence but those who have tasted its fruit well know that the key to their contentment is dying to self and living in a manner that always hopes to bring Christ to the front of what is seen in our lives. To live for yourself is to embrace mere existence, a spiritual-zombie state of being. To learn to live in Christ & for Christ is to receive the promise of the abundant life that Christ spoke of. We are also shown repeatedly in God’s Word that to live for one’s own glory is the inviting of trouble into our days.
“For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.” – Isaiah 3:8
Isaiah’s book pulls no punches as the prophet called things exactly as he saw them. Without mincing words, he tells us above how the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, came to suffer their demise. He uses simple words like John the Baptizer and informs us that the people had spoken and lived in a way that defied the glory of God. How they lived underestimated the magnitude of who God is and overestimated their own significance. They had learned to find their purpose outside of their Lord and God loved them too deeply to allow this to go uncontested. Remember, these were not pagan idolaters but people of God’s covenant. These were His eye’s apple and the objects of His relentless grace and blessing. How many times had He rescued them? Blessed them? Provided for them? Their response was to spite the very God who chose them and they selected a path of self-love which the holy and jealous God of Heaven could not bless. Both bible history and secular records chronicle that these very people were ultimately brought to ruin. Think on this: every person and thing which has ever been or ever will be that does not actively bring God glory will be destroyed. In destroying what would not bring Him glory, He brings glory to Himself. His theme of the ages is His own splendor and glory and all that endures for eternity will be aligned with that purpose.
He is giving you the grace to give Him the glory.
We have choices today and, in my bottom-line thinking, those choices really end up being one choice: my self or my Savior. May God grant us the appropriating of His grace so that we may find the deep joy of self-decreasing as we become aware of His increasing from our lives. Let us serve others with gladness as Christ told us that, in doing so, we are truly serving Him. You have been twice-born to be a giver so put to death that part of you which craves to be a receiver, even a taker. Determine that God’s word is true and all that intersects it is a lie – then live robustly for what He has said. Love swallows the desire for vengeance so let ill-will toward all others be buried. Mercy and grace will partner with one another to slay and bury the regrets in your life that refuse to silence themselves – you don’t have to listen to the accusations of your past. Above all things, don’t live in fear because your almighty Master also happens to be the Master of all other things and people; look continually to Him and find the strength and courage that your self can never provide. You were created for His glory, redeemed for His glory, are being sustained for His glory and will, in the end, die for His glory and arise for His glory. Jesus Christ is and always has been the tethering cord of your purpose. Let us not seek to use Him for our own name but may we remember that He uses us for His. Go ahead and make the swap.
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