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"The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase, and I must decrease." (John 3:29-30)
John the Baptist was a great man. No less an authority than Jesus said so himself. John was the last of the prophets. When people heard him preach, they trembled. He attracted disciples, crowds, and the attention of the press. He even attracted the attention of kings and queens.
But when Jesus came, John never forgot his place. Despite being goaded by his disciples to be jealous of the early success of Jesus' ministry, John remained steadfast in his sense of place within God's plan. He rejoiced in the following that Jesus attracted. He even helped his own disciples to join with Jesus. John 3:22-30 is John's explanation of his own role to his disciples. Now my joy is complete. He (Jesus) must increase, and I must decrease.
Have you discovered this truth yet? Most of us think that joy increases as we increase - as our wealth and our prestige, our influence and our power increase. But in fact, just the opposite is true. Lasting joy is not found at the top of the corporate mountain or at the pinnacle of power. Joy is not a reward of accomplishment. True joy is found where John the Baptist found it - by finding one's place in relationship to Jesus Christ.
Are you ready to find joy complete? He (Jesus) must continue to increase in significance and Lordship of our lives while we (our plans and ambitions) must decrease.
Action item: Make a list of the things that really bring joy to your life. You will find that the things that bring joy are not things at all, but rather gifts given to you (like family, health, a sunrise, a friend). Perhaps the way to discover more joy is to give those kinds of gifts more fully to others.