Increase + Decrease = Growth

increase decrease 16x9

A good friend once told me that, “healthy things grow.” Growing spiritually isn’t hard, it takes effort. It doesn’t happen automatically. There are common attitudes that need to be confronted that can inhibit health and halt growth.

In John 3, we read about a man by the name of John, who had a large following. Crowds gathered as far as the eye could see to hear him teach and to be baptized by him.

But now Jesus, the Messiah has arrived. As a result, John’s popularity and ministry are fading as people now line up to hear Jesus teach and be baptized by Him. John’s disciples see this, and they don’t like it.

They go to John to complain, and John makes a very profound statement in verse 30,

He must increase, but I (John) must decrease.”

It was time for John to decrease and not come up with a new tactic to win back the popular vote.

The word increase carries the meaning of enlarge, cause to grow.

Now was time for Jesus to enlarge His following and to grow in awareness. What would His story look like had John choose not to decrease but compete with Jesus?

For us to grow spiritually, we need an increase/decrease approach to faith. If we don’t allow God to increase in our life, we are competing with Him and become His opponent, not His follower.

This story parallels our lives as followers of Jesus and contains insight for living. Here are four areas of decrease I want to encourage you to consider.

#1 My will

As a follower of Jesus, your agenda takes a back seat to the Word and will of God. This doesn’t mean that your dreams are not God’s will, but you must be willing to lay it down because they have the potential to drive you away from God.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

To delight means to seek and find joy, peace, and happiness in the LORD. To make Him your source. As you do this God will give you the desires of your heart.

Furthermore, Jeremiah 29:11 God told the Israelites that, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God’s will is for your good. His plans are going to increase hope in your life, not discourage you. Don’t settle for second best by holding onto your will.

#2 My sin.

James 1:14 makes it clear that God does not tempt anyone, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”

Our human nature is captivated by sin. If we don’t confess, repent, and turn from sin it will consume us and drive us away from God. Sin doesn’t keep God from you. It keeps you from God.

Sin is deceptive, and we may find one day that we are merely going through religious motions and lack the conviction and fruit of a follower of Jesus.  Confess and repent of it before it lures you away from God.

#3 My Pride.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” Romans 12:3

Pride causes me to inflate my ego and see myself as something I’m not.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:9

Pride always leads to destruction. No pride-filled person escapes this end.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

The only antidote to pride is humility.

#4 My position.

If we are not careful, our accomplishments or status can cause us to feel superior to others. Jesus taught in Matthew 20:26, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant…”

If you want to become great, serve. Titles, positions, or accomplishments in this life do not bring us any closer to God like when you choose to serve. The thing about being a servant, in relationship to God, is that He honors and elevates you.

John 15:15, Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends.” When you take the position of a servant, you become a friend of God, and He makes known the will of God to you.

You gain more by humbling yourself and becoming a servant than you will ever accomplish on your own apart from God. Put in the effort to be spiritual fit so Jesus can increase in your life!

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