Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? Those famous words spoken by the wicked Queen. What was the answer every time by the Mirror? “The mirror always replies: "My Queen, you are the fairest in that land.” The same answer that we seek for ourselves from time to time! See….I think the greatest hurdle to overcome is the hurdle of self. A desire to be known, respected, getting what we want, our purposes, ambitions and desire for our identity in life to be known; especially in ministry. As Paul Tripp calls it in his marriage seminars that battle from within….the battle between the kingdom of self-versus the kingdom of God. Think about the greatest battle we face! Is it not the battle of our own desires and wants over what God wants in our life. Everyone one of us at some point in time battle with this….maybe even right now! Everyone one of us wants to be recognized or popular among our peers and family.
Let’s face it! We are naturally born to love self over everyone and everything else that’s what makes the Christian life so hard at times. Those wars that wage against our soul as James so boldly proclaimed in his letter. It was told that the late great F B Meyers ministered in London at the same time that Charles Spurgeon was preaching in the great Metropolitan Tabernacle. As a young man, though dynamic and gifted, Meyer would stand on the steps of his church Sunday after Sunday and watch the carriages flow by to Spurgeon’s church. That was very difficult for him, but he did it. Another story comes from the end of Meyer’s life, when he was preaching in Northfield at the invitation of D L Moody. G Campbell Morgan was preaching there the same time. Great crowds came to hear Morgan, but very small crowds came to hear Meyer. The latter was not in his prime, and Morgan was in full bloom of his preaching power. Meyer came back to his cottage one day feeling very sad, and he began to pray. Later he was heard saying to people, “Have you heard Campbell Morgan preach? Did you hear that message this morning? My God is upon that MAN!” SEE...It’s not about us! It’s not about Meyers, Spurgeon….it’s all about Him! “He must become greater; I must become less.” That’s the proper response! God gets the credit and the glory. Remember what Paul said to the church in Corinth? Is Christ divided? We come to a passage of scripture that throws the kingdom of self and that kind of thinking into the garbage where it belongs. I think this conversation that we see John have with his friend’s summarizes for us the underlining theme of the Christian life in one sentence (v30) “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
What exactly is John trying to tell his friends [who were very upset and concerned for their mentor John, as they thought Jesus was trying to outdo him]? Why were they upset and concerned? (v22-v25). But this is exactly what John was hoping for or desired as he started this ministry as a spokesman for the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Remember John’s ministry was to make of Christ and to make Him known among the people. That’s why John explains to his friends this ministry he had was given to him from Heaven and that he was excited and happy to see people where going to Jesus instead. Look how john explains the reason for this to his dear friends (v25-v29) John explains that ministry is a gift from God and to be used for His glory. John explains that he knew his role as bridegroom [best man]and he wasn't the groom [the Christ]. John explains that this course of events was fulfilling his joy. Albert Barnes said this about John remarks to his friends “I sustain to the Messiah the relation which a groomsman does to the groom. The chief honor and the chief joy is not mine, but his. It is to be expected, therefore, that the people will come to him, and that his success will be great. The relation of Christ to the church is often compared with the marriage relation, denoting the tenderness of the union, and his great love for his people.” John Calvin said in his commentary “He means that he has obtained the fulfillment of all his desires, and that he has nothing further to wish, when he sees Christ reigning, and men listening to him as he deserves. Whoever shall have such affections that, laying aside all regard to himself, he shall extol Christ and be satisfied with seeing Christ honored, will be faithful and successful in ruling the Church; but, whoever shall swerve from that end in the slightest degree will be a base adulterer, and will do nothing else than corrupt the spouse of Christ.” What a great response that leads to this humble and bold statement in (v30) “He must increase, but I must decrease.” “must” indicates of speaks of a divine necessity. See it was God’s will that John give or lead the way to Jesus. There was no longer any reason for the crowds to hang around John since the King of kings and Lord of lords was here.This was the purpose of John’s ministry and it’s the same purpose for the church as well. Whether its street preaching, missions work, pastoral or serving and singing in the choir! Everything we do…should steer or guide sinners to the arms of Christ and His overflowing grace found in the gospel. Everything we do here and in our homes [in our lives] should reflect the character of Christ. See in reality what John is saying is that Christ “must” be supreme in our lives. People must be able to see Christ in your life! Not you…but more of Him. What does that look like?
1. RECOGNIZING THAT I DESPERATELY NEED HIM FOR EVERY BREATH.
As Jesus said “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
2. TO COUNT IT A BLESSING TO SUFFER FOR HIS NAME SAKE
1 Peter 4:13-16 “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
3.TOTAL COMMITMENT AND SURRENDER OF MY LIFE IN DAILY OBEDIENCE
In Luke 14:26-27 Jesus said "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
4. A LIFE COMPLETELY SATISFIED IN CHRIST ALONE
Matt 13:44-46 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
5. SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE TO MAKE MUCH OF HIM DAILY AND LESS OF ME.
Eph 6:6-7 “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
We all know the song “Give me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega
“…..In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus….
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus……”
See it’s all about Him! John knew this, but his friends didn't that’s why he needed to explain to them the importance of Christ over self. I don’t need to be famous, write a best seller or to be known by people. I want a person to know Him and love that is found in the gospel. Our lives must consistently reflex more of Him and less of us, but you can't do that effectively if you're constantly battling to be number one. If your neighbor, family member, co-worker, friend came over and you asked what does my life reflex most, Jesus or this present world? What would they say? I think you truly know the answer to that question! So let’s start today……a fresh slate or palate by making much of Him and less of me and you. There is no other way we should want to live for Christ today and forever. William Carey lay dying, he turned to his friend and said these words “when I am gone, don’t talk about William Carey; talk about William Carey’s Saviour, I desire that Christ alone might be magnified.” Remember what the apostle Paul said to the church at Philippi? “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil 1:20-21. This is exactly what John is trying to convey to his friends and us this morning. He must become greater; I must become less. Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? What is the mirror going to say to you?