I Must Decrease
~ We should earnestly seek to honor the blessed Spirit; to lean upon Him in all our work; to follow where He leads, not run before Him. His work will stand: “Whatsoever God doeth it shall be forever.” “The works that are done upon the earth, He is the doer of them.” The remembrance of this will ever keep the mind well balanced. There is great danger of young workmen getting so excited about their work, their preaching, their gifts, as to lose sight of the blessed Master Himself. Moreover, they are apt to make preaching the end instead of the means. This works badly in every way. It injures themselves, and it mars their work. The moment I make preaching my end, I am out of the current of the mind of God, whose end is to glorify Christ; and I am out of the current of the heart of Christ, whose end is the salvation of souls, and the full blessing of His Church. But where the Holy Ghost gets His proper place, where He is duly owned and trusted, there all will be right. There will be no exaltation of man; no bustling self-importance; no parading of the fruits of our work; no excitement. All will be calm, quiet, real, and unpretending. There will be the simple, earnest, believing, patient waiting upon God. Self will be in the shade; Christ will be exalted. ~ 
That last phrase struck me. “Self will be in the shade; Christ will be exalted.” It reminds me of what John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30, KJV). He would desire to shrivel away so that all would see Christ, and Christ alone. “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, KJV). This desire that all would hear the words but that their eyes would gaze exclusively upon the Lamb. Is that not the objective? Is that not the aim? Sadly, there are times when it is not. Is it possible to be so consumed with my work, my preaching, my gift, that I lose sight of the One who has given me that work to do? Can I lose sight of the One who I am preaching about? Am I drooling over my gift and forgetting about the One who has gifted me? It is to our harm and injury if we continue so.
It is a wonderful thing when older ones are able to hand over and entrust to younger believers a measure of responsibility in the local assembly. A chance to preach the Gospel. An opportunity to lead and guide a Sunday School class. Opening a Bible Study or teaching and expositing a text for a Ministry meeting. These are occasions for growth and sanctification in the life of a young believer. It’s great to be busy in the things of the Lord. But being busy for the sake of being busy is not Christ-exalting. Over time I become more concerned with the work I am doing instead of the One who is working through me. I end up becoming a glory hunter instead of giving God all the glory. To Him is due every ounce of it. Pride rears up its ugly head and we know what the end result is when we read, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18, NASB).
As we are given these opportunities, we need to continually have before us a fierce dependence on the Holy Spirit. We need to know what it is to be broken before God. That we would know what it is to be broken by God’s Word and to be built back up again by that which has broken us. Built back up into a vessel fit for the Master’s use. Fit for His purposes. Fit for His work. This is a non-negotiable prerequisite for handling the Word of God properly and powerfully. Consider what was said of Peter and John, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, ESV). They could boldly proclaim with not a shred of arrogance attached to them, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, KJV). What prepared them to proclaim the gospel powerfully without sinful pride? They had been with The Lord Jesus Christ as the text tells us.
The pulpit is not a place for me to bolster my position, power, and prestige. It is to be occupied by broken men who have known what it is to tremble in the presence of God and who have eyes fixed and focused on the Master Himself. This will be the greatest of preservatives. May we continually ask our Lord for the power that does not originate with us, but the power found in Him. The kind of power that is being asked for in this hymn by Charles Russell Hurditch:
Power to keep the eye
For ever fixed on Thee;
Power to lift the warning cry
To souls from wrath to flee.
Lord Jesus, then to me
Power divine impart,
To swell redemption’s song to Thee,
For worthy, Lord, Thou art.
 Mackintosh, Charles Henry. “Letters to an Evangelist.” In Miscellaneous Writings. Volume III. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot, 1908.