“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 (ESV)

We live in such a cluttered day – emotionally, physically and spiritually. We’ve got too much stuff and we are doing too much. This starts to weigh us down.

Clutter in our homes can hinder hospitality. It can effect a generous person’s freedom to welcome others into their homes. Similarly, clutter in our hearts can limit our freedom to welcome others into our home and offer hospitality. It is something that not only affects us but the next generation.

Often we associate decrease with failure, punishment and weakness. We easily attach to increase – always wanting to add and never subtract. However, continuous increase is exhausting and unnatural.

The cross is the ultimate example of the power of decrease. It reveals how decrease can be sacred and actually enrich our communion with God. Alicia invited us to re-frame our thinking towards decrease.

In John 3:30, when questioned about Jesus’ expanding ministry, John the Baptist responds “He must increase; I must decrease”. John didn’t offer this sentence as a random poetic line. He offered this sentence within a context.

John 3:22 reveals the phrase is expressed to a specific group, regarding a specific concern they had at the time.

Often in our lives something new gives us frustration about something old. John’s disciples were frustrated about Jesus. They were bothered by His success. We can easily ask, what is it that bothered them? But we must be willing to ask ourselves the same question, what is it that bothers us when someone seems to surpass us?

Often we can genuinely celebrate someone’s success but there are other times when someone’s success frustrates us and effects our sense of justice. What is the root of this? For John’s disciples the root could have been jealousy, territorialism, entitlement, fear or offense? Whatever the root, this kind of heart clutter blocks our view of Jesus.

Alicia presented a very common idol today; the idol of uniqueness. Our calling is not unique. Each of our existence shouts uniqueness but our core calling is common.

Jesus says the same thing to each one of us when He calls us:  “Follow Me”.  He said it directly to Simon Peter and Andrew, Matthew the Tax collector and Phillip in the Bible. He also said it in-directly to James and John.

Following Jesus is all about nearness with Jesus. His “follow me” is not about scenery but company,  it is about a relationship rather than a direction. When we try to separate the will of God from our core calling of intimacy with God we will certainly be busy but make little threat to the Kingdom of darkness.

The book of Luke starts with the words “Many have undertaken…” (Luke 1:1) Luke acknowledges that he is not the only person who has shared the testimony of Jesus but he continues to make his offering.

Luke’s example is meaningful. Our age has shifted away from the health of being strategic with our uniqueness to bowing down to it as an idol. Our generation says you must be first, you need to be the best and if you can’t be the best, then you need to make space for someone who can.

We easily think that for our offering to be valuable, it must be utterly unique. The truth is that the gates of hell shake when God’s people say yes to following His call together.

When we start bowing to uniqueness as an idol, we begin to justify our existence comparatively and sometimes defensively. We think more highly of ourselves than others, who they aren’t and who we are.

The idol of uniqueness has an agenda. It shames some of us to silence but your voice is desperately needed in this world. Your offering might be the tipping point for someone else to begin to see Jesus. For others the idol of uniqueness tips us into arrogance. The enemy doesn’t care which direction the idol of uniqueness takes us. Either direction will create heart clutter that hinders our view of Jesus and hinders others view of Jesus through us.

God is inviting us into sacred decrease, in order to thicken our communion with Him and for others to see Jesus clearly through us.

  1. Think about John’s words “He must increase; I must decrease”. What does this look like in our lives today?
  2. Has there been a time when you started to compare yourself to others and forgot about how your voice and your offering can help someone see Jesus?  
  3. Take some time to pray and ask God to reveal any heart clutter that you might be carrying?
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