Updated: May 18
“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. 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 become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30
The day my third granddaughter was born, her big brother adored her. He couldn’t wait to go to the hospital to hold her. For more than three years if Lanie wanted it, Owen would get if for her. He put Lanie’s wants before his own, gallantly and unselfishly. It was so bad that his Mama kept prompting Owen to not allow Lanie to take whatever she wanted, but he would just say, “It’s ok, I can play with something else". Owen was ok with his sister’s needs coming before his own.
I’m actually pretty impressed it lasted as long as it did. As you can imagine, he isn’t as interested in giving in as he was, although they are still pretty close. When Lanie is upset, the first person she wants is her Owie. Even still, Owen has learned the worldly ideology of looking out for number one, and sometimes that surprises Lanie because it didn’t used to be that way.
Have you ever had the opportunity to take the lead on an assignment knowing that someone else would finish it and be the hero? Have you ever been the lead on a project and then be told someone else would complete it? I don’t know about you, but that is a tough pill for me to swallow.
The world tells us that we need to stand up for ourselves, that it’s all about me. I imagine the world even said that in Jesus’ days on earth. Of course, when we can look to Jesus and his teachings of humility and service, we know that isn’t what He wants from us.
John the Baptist didn’t know the luxury of “it’s all about me”. He was born to be second, to tell the world about Jesus. His entire life he only took care of his most basic needs, then as he neared 30, he began a ministry to prepare the world for his cousin, the Messiah.
We have the bonus of the Gospels to tell us who Jesus was and what He desired for us. John only knew what his father had been told; “And he will go on before the LORD, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the LORD." (Luke 1:17)
Zechariah started telling the world while John was still a baby that he would be second; “And he will go on before the LORD, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-to make ready a people prepared for the LORD."
John didn’t waver from the purpose God gave him. He was a part of the old covenant, and he knew he was preparing the way for Jesus to fulfill the law. John reveled in the purpose he was given and he joyfully spent his life telling the world about Jesus.
Oh, how I wish we could realize and accomplish our purpose as easily as John did. Our purpose is to use the gifts God gave us to further His kingdom, but do we accomplish them as easily as John? Do we joyfully live our lives telling the world of the Messiah that will wash our sins away? Can we express the freedom and delight we get when we take up His cross?
Are we ready to be second?