The Bible teaches that God has great and specific plans and purposes for each of our lives. The man we know as John the Baptist (or Baptizer) knew clearly what the Lord had called him to be and do. John had an enormous ministry. Large crowds of people came to hear him preach about repentance and the kingdom of God. Many of those people responded to his message by being baptized, indicating publicly that they had repented of their sins and turned to God, which is why John was known as “the Baptizer.” In many ways, John was a “star’ in his own right. But he knew all along that God had called him to focus the peoples’ attention and devotion on his cousin Jesus, the one that John knew was the Messiah. Therefore, John had no problem when the focus of public adulation shifted to Jesus and His ministry. That was what he had wanted all along. John knew that he had been called by God to prepare the way for the coming Messiah, and he was content to fill that role.
What has God called you to do? Has He called you to a “limelight ministry” where people will be inclined to focus their attention on you; where people will be proclaiming you to be their leader and will be following you? Or has the Lord called you to a “behind-the-scenes” ministry where you are to serve Him and others without being the “big shot” or acclaimed one. Regardless of what type of ministry that God has called you to, each and every ministry is extremely important. They all catch the attention of God; bringing reward and recognition from Him, and every ministry is like a building block that builds a structure where Jesus can eventually be fully and finally acknowledged, acclaimed, and responded to.
Second Question – “What are some struggles you have at times when it’s obvious that others are going to receive greater acclaim and recognition than you?” We can see from our text that John apparently had no struggles whatsoever. He was willing to step aside and allow Jesus to rise to the forefront of public recognition and adulation. That’s why he said about Jesus: “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30). John wanted Jesus to be glorified above himself.
Third Question – “What would it take in your life for Jesus to become ‘greater and greater’ and you to become ‘less and less’?” The truth of the matter is we all, at times, keep Jesus in the background because we are unwilling for Him to be the proclaimed Lord of our lives. Sometimes our pride causes us to want the acclaim and recognition of others, and sometimes it’s our insecurity. Sometimes it’s our selfishness that causes us to want people to focus on us and our accomplishments rather than Jesus and His accomplishments. There are other reasons also, as to why we have become “greater and greater” in our own eyes and minds, and Jesus has become “less and less.” If that is where you are right now, you must realize that is contrary to what the Lord desires and requires in our lives. Jesus wants to be first and foremost in our lives. He wants us to love Him more than we love ourselves (Mark 12:30), and to always put Him first in our lives (Matthew 6:33). May we, like John the Baptist, be willing to recognize and respond to who and what God has ordained for our lives, and may we always be desiring and aspiring for Jesus to be prominent, proclaimed and preeminent in our lives!
As you pray today: 1) Ask the Lord to reveal to you whether it’s yourself, others or Him, that is first and foremost in your life, and if He is not first, ask Him to forgive you and re-order your life; 2) Ask the Lord to show you specifically what He has called you to be and do, and to help you utilize your time and talents to magnify the person and ministry of Jesus; and 3) Pray for others you know who need to make Jesus absolute Lord of their lives.