He Must Increase…

Sometimes we as leaders have been criticized for pride and for trying to credit things to ourselves and our own ministries. I want to begin by asking forgiveness of anyone who has felt that way, and for anything we have done that was borne of ego and exclusiveness.

Those are sinful and evil attitudes.

We believe that the correct attitude is just the opposite. May the Lord grant us grace to be able to walk in true humility and inclusiveness.

A wonderful example was given to us by Yohanan (John the Baptist) in John 3:27-30:

Yohanan answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the groom; but the friend of the groom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the groom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.

A person cannot take on credit, anointing, blessing or authority. That must come from above. All empowerment should be given, not taken. There is no place for selfish ambition in God’s kingdom.

When we see someone else blessed, we should give credit to God who has blessed the person in His grace. Therefore, there is neither any place for jealousy. Good things come from God. He loves everybody. No one “deserves” the grace they receive. God is just as desirous of blessing you as He is of anyone else.

We must also watch out, when we are endeavoring to “serve” God, not to think that we are the center of the narrative. John said, “I am not the Messiah.” Sometimes we see ourselves as the key person in what God is doing. That is wrong and self-deceptive. The story here is not about you; it’s about Yeshua.

It seems to me that most men live in a fantasy narrative about themselves. There is a saying in Hebrew, “You are living in a film.” Many men (I suppose women also, but I know the male psyche better) are living as if they are star-ring in a movie; that all the others around them are just secondary “supporting” actors. It’s really embarrassing.

The real “movie script,” in which we are all players, has a central hero. It’s not me and it’s not you. It is Yeshua.

To whom does the bride belong?

In addition, Yohanan said that the “bride belongs to the groom.” The bride is the people of God. The groom is Messiah. The marital or bridal model here implies a bit of ownership – possessiveness likened to a man’s romantic and sexual feelings toward his wife.

This is just a parable; but the point remains. Yeshua wants the affection and attention of His people. They belong to Him. Sometimes we want to “credit” things as belonging to us; seeing other people as “our flock.” That is evil and selfish. And it makes Yeshua angry like a husband being angry at another man for trying to attract his wife’s attention and affection.

[This situation is reminiscent of political dictators who don’t want true Christians in their country, even though they know the Christians will be the best citizens, workers, and patriots. Why would a dictator be against them? Because he wants all the loyalty and affection to himself. Even though the Christians would be outstanding citizens, their heart devotion is to another Man.]

We need to learn a non-selfish kind of joy. We need to become joyful altruistically and vicariously. We are like the friends of a man who is about to be married. We are delighted and joyful at his opportunity to be with his wife. We share his joy at the wedding. We are not looking to draw attention and affection from the bride.

Shrink our egos

Finally, Yohanan said that Yeshua is to increase and he is to decrease. It is a natural human desire to want to increase. However, spiritual maturity sees the wisdom and correctness of decreasing. That is victory over soulishness and selfishness. We shrink our egos. Our goal is to see Yeshua “magnified” – that is, to be made bigger. We are delighted to decrease in the eyes of others as we see Yeshua increased to them.

The issue of inclusiveness means that we see God’s blessing as belonging to everyone together. It is not “mine” but “ours.” We hold the grace of God “in common”. When God does something wonderful because of His grace, we see it as a blessing to all. It is not “ours” and not just for our group, but “ours” to all who are servants of the Lord.

We include others in the blessing and the credit; we do not exclude others. We are not exclusive, like an elitist club, when it comes to the glory of God. It belongs to Him, so we stay HUMBLE. He gives it to all the saints, so we stay INCLUSIVE in our attitude.

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel | Tikkun Global, December 15, 2021, and reposted with permission.