"He must increase, but I must decrease." - John 3:30
As John the Baptist gazed upon the Lamb which would take away the sins of the world, one of the only things he could utter was his own complete unwothiness to be in the presence of such splendor and glory. Surely as the man considered his own frame, his own sin and wretched heart, he knew that his ministry, his person must give way, that he must fade into the light that is Jesus Christ.
The role of the minister of the Lord Jesus Christ is an ever decreasing one. The purpose of the pastor is to point people towards the Savior. He is like a mirror, reflecting the person and work of Christ. He should not be seen for himself, but in the fashion of a John the Baptist, decreasing that Jesus might increase. This is a real challenge for any man who is placed in a position of popularity, respect and influence. John knew the temptation to seek his own glory. He had followers; those who would have probably went with him whether he followed Jesus or not. But John knew his purpose. His heart was aflame for the Messiah. And his only desire was to lead people to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ministers in the Church today would do well to check their motives, and their ministry. Are you leading people to Christ? When people look at you, are they immediately redirected to seeing Jesus? Does humility and deference define you as a person? John the Baptist understood and embraced his ever decreasing role in the presence of the splendor and glory of Jesus Christ. May we, as ministers of God, imitate the same.
"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness" - 2 Pet. 1:5-6
Self-control is repeatedly set forth in the New Testament as among the most important and significant Christian virtues. If building the character of Jesus Christ in your life is of concern to you, then there is no way of escaping the need for cultivating self-control. There's a saying that goes, “Next time you want a cupcake, eat a carrot.” The saying is good advice for dieters, but those who wrote it may have had all of us in mind. By disciplining our desires when no moral principle is at stake, we prepare ourselves for those moments when we face a temptation to sin.
I know my family gets tired of me saying it, but I often speak of godliness through discipline. The concept of self control literally means to have power over, or a mastery over ones self. By nature, no one wants to curb their own appetites. We like having what we want, when we want it, to the extent we want it. The Apostle Paul knew how important disciplining 'self' is when he spoke of his "warring against the... sin which is in my members" (Rom. 7:23). Exercising self control is the ability to restrain the sinful nature and bring ourselves, through the help of the Holy Spirit, into greater conformity to God's will.
In the moments of testing we do the habits of our heart. Jesus was never 'out of control'. Even in his most excited occasion, like the time he cleansed the temple of the money-lenders, our Lord still took the time to patiently and deliberately make the whip he used to chase them out (John 2:15). By cultivating the virtue of self control in our daily lives, we are preparing ourselves for those moments of testing. Self control doesn't come naturally. Self-control comes as you gradually yield control to someone other than yourself. For the Christian, that someone else is Jesus Christ. Have you given control of self over to Jesus? Does Christ serve as your example of godliness through discipline? May we come to add the virtue of self-control to our walk with the Lord. Amen.