He Must Increase
Gaining a proper perspective of life in the midst of its stress.
by Trey Graham
Life is full of questions. Some seek facts, others seek wisdom: What makes life worthwhile? How can I find fulfillment in life? Why do I feel so empty when my calendar is so full? God, why am I so busy that I forget You? How can I, the creation, not feel obligated to bow down daily before you, the Creator?
A few nagging questions persist: What am I really doing with my life? Is my time spent doing meaningful acts, or is it simply spent? For whom and for what am I working? To what end am I striving? In today’s society, it has become trite to ask, “What is the meaning of life?” Yet so many people still don’t know the answer.
Studying vs. doing
I recently found a quote that expresses my desire to live a life that is worthwhile, a life that truly honors God: “One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.”
I have spent years studying about God. I know now that He wants me to spend years obeying Him, applying all the lessons I have learned. What have you learned about God? What has He taught you? Do we really need to learn more, or do we actually need to do the things we have been taught?
Christian author Oswald Chambers once wrote:
If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try to find out what His purposes are. As we go on in the Christian life it gets simpler, because we are less inclined to say — Now why did God allow this and that? Behind the whole thing lies the compelling of God.
God has called each one of us to a specific task: namely, to live obediently to the Bible and His will. The exact circumstance, however, in which God places us differs one to another. Your way is not my way; your path may not match my path. But our God is the Father of all, and we journey together, numerous individuals striving to follow different paths to the same finish line.
What is that finish line? Our earthly race is over when we enter eternity and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . .Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21). My calling and your calling today are to journey toward that finish line, to serve God faithfully, to live godly lives in an increasingly ungodly world.
The way may be difficult, the path may be rocky; but our mission is certain. Remember the words of Daniel Webster as you run the race: “Real goodness does not attach itself merely to this life — it points to another world.”
Unfortunately, as I try to fulfill the call to goodness in my daily life, I always seem so busy, yet never feel complete. The Bible reminds me that Jesus never rushed, yet got everything done; I am always rushed, yet never get everything done. Jesus asked His disciples, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (16:26). Our society thrives on the search for a profit, but will it really make my life better, more worthwhile? Maybe that ancient philosophy shared by Jesus with a few simple fishermen does still apply today. Maybe busy-ness to profit my business is less important than my calling to be a good and faithful servant.
With a new desire to strive to honor God in all I do, I have adopted a new life verse. It remains as the sure foundation when the world around me seems to crumble. It reminds me who really is in control. In John 3:30, John the Baptist declared his simple yet profound philosophy of life: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This fundamental priority for John the Baptist has become my all-consuming goal.
Life seemed overwhelming to John in the first century, and he needed a reminder that God still reigns. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, I need that same reassurance. When the stress level rises, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When I can’t seem to finish it all, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When my faith falters, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When the world seems lost and anarchy seems to reign, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When morality is ridiculed and evil seems victorious, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
We all should hope to live as William Law explained the Christian life in the eighteenth century: “If our common life is not a common course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection, we do not live the lives of Christians.”
Living for God
So what am I doing with my life? Is life worth living? It is more than worth it if we live for the One who gives life. As one person put it, “No one can please God without adding a great deal of happiness to his or her own life.”
No matter my job title or job description, I am to faithfully obey the omniscient and omnipotent God of this universe. I set goals; I have dreams; I reach for the stars. But after all the dust settles, when the final whistle is blown, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.