“As I think you will remember,” Stan commented one morning, “we’ve talked a lot about the basic three steps of discipleship.”
“I do remember,” I replied. “Deny self, take up what God has for us to take up, and follow. And the part about ‘follow’ is to be however, wherever, and whenever, which is always. Why do you mention it again?”
“Two reasons,” Stan said. “First, it’s important. Second, I saw earlier this morning a statement that John the Baptist made that seems to be a reflection of the first two steps of discipleship.”
“John the Baptist?” I questioned. “What’d he have to say about those two steps?”
“That he must decrease while Jesus must increase,” Stan replied.
“Decrease and increase,” I repeated. “Oh, you mean like ‘decrease’ in the sense of denying self, and ‘increase’ like taking up what we are to take up. Is that it?”
“That’s what it looks like to me,” Stan replied.
“If I don’t decrease,” he continued, “by denying myself and getting out of God’s way, there’s not going to be any room for Him to increase in my life by my taking up what He has for me to take up.”
“And,” I commented, “I guess there would be no way for you to follow if you haven’t decreased and He hasn’t increased.”
“It’s more than a guess, my friend,” Stan replied rather solemnly.
Bible verses to consider:
He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24.
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving Jesus as the way to you for all of eternity. Thank you, too, that you want Him to increase in my life while I decrease so I can and will know you and Him in an ever-deepening relationship while I remain on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not choose for Jesus to increase in my life, but I choose to increase myself or something (or someone) other than you. Please forgive the foolishness of that. Help me follow every step of your lead so I do decrease self and increase Jesus in my life and then follow just as you intend. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in His name. Amen.
Think on this: Have you decreased yourself and increased Jesus by accepting His finished work on the cross so you know you will spend eternity with God? If no, why have you not accepted God’s free and gracious provision? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with continually decreasing self and increasing Jesus in your life as a disciple? If you sense the need for change, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?