John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Pride. It exalts self over others. It is giving self the preeminence. Pride says, “I can do it better”. Pride often blinds us into thinking of ourselves far more than is real or truthful. Pride is often critical, sarcastic, depreciating and negative. We feel that if we tear others down, it will ultimately lift us up. Pride is an insidious monster that when unbridled, can ruin all those it touches.
The ultimate example of pride is found in Isaiah:
Isaiah 14:12-15 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Known as the five ‘I wills’ of Satan, We see the fall of Lucifer, the archangel of Heaven. Made to be one of the most beautiful of the angels; given authority over the music and a covering for the throne of God, He was presumably, one closest to God. When viewed from afar, a leader can seem larger than life. But the closer we get, there is an even greater danger lurking in the shadows.
When we get close to leadership; human leadership, we see both sides. We see the side that others see – the confidence, the wisdom; the real gifts and talents up close. But then, if we stick around long enough, we see their humanity as well. When pride rears its ugly head, it begins to formulate a thought; “I” can do what they do. “I” can say what they say. When “I” enters, our ability to lead properly is severely hindered and is in danger of destruction.
Everyone is a leader of someone; if only themselves. But unless you are a hermit in a cave, others see you; watch you, acknowledge you and some even follow you. John the Baptist, whose words began this devotion this morning, knew well his position, his purpose, and the power given him to do what he was commissioned by God to do. He also realized that he was no there to promote himself. He was to prepare the way for the Messiah.
Jesus said of John,
Matthew 11:11 “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
John was not the chest-thumping, look at me type. He said “He (Jesus) must increase” and I must decrease. Humility – the opposite of pride – is often disdained in the world today. It is portrayed as weak, powerless and without merit. Yet, the greatest example of humility is our Savior. He had at His fingertips legions of angels who, at any moment would have done His bidding. Yet, He suffered willingly for the greater good – the redemption of all humanity.
Where is it that we have sought recognition? When was it that we wanted a position? Praise of men and prominence with the crowd? Ever feel unappreciated? Made to look smaller in the eyes of others? Pride cries for acknowledgment. Pride seeks validation. Pride wants the spotlight. Pride cares little about others and seeks to exalt self above all.
The way to true Christian living; becoming more like Jesus, is to humble ourselves and allow God to live His life through us. Pride seeks to bring the old man back to life. The Holy Spirit seeks to live fully in us and through us. When the old man is still alive, the door is open for pride to enter. John said it best “I MUST decrease” the old man MUST die.
Close the door to pride. Allow your relationship with the Holy Spirit to increase; for Christ to be formed in you.