Greater or Less Than | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2014

Greater or Less Than

By: Alyssa Gillespie

Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:25-30

There are two types of the people in the world: those who enjoy group projects and those who don’t. Now, I can’t say that I have met very many people who fall into the former category, but I am sure they exist. As for me, my heart sinks a little bit each time I am in a group project situation. Since my grades were always a priority to me, it was difficult to give up control and let a group determine my academic fate. Throughout college however, group projects were a regular component of most of my classes. Even now that I have graduated college, I still encounter a fair amount of group projects in the working environment. In every group setting, the main focus is less about what you, as an individual, have done, and more about what the group has done together. Sometimes, giving up control, recognition, and our individuality can be difficult, but when we give those things up, we gain relationships, humility, and unity.

John the Baptist was a man who spent his time proclaiming the kingdom of God and preparing the way for the Messiah. Through his ministry, many people found repentance. John’s words drew people to him and he baptized thousands. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus and his followers entered into the area where John was baptizing and also began to baptize the people. When John’s followers realized that the people were going to get baptized by Jesus, they began to question John’s role and purpose of ministry. The way that John responds to his followers changes everything. His response is filled with humility and selflessness. He has never claimed to be anything greater than one who was preparing the way. In fact, he takes joy in knowing that Jesus is becoming the focus. Jesus must become greater and he must become less.

Jesus must become greater and we must become less. This is a powerful statement about how we should live our lives. So often, we are inwardly focused. It is easy to get caught up in what we want. As people of God though, that isn’t how we are called to live. We are called to put aside our control, selfishness, desires, and pride, and instead seek out what God has in store for us. We have to become less so that the One who loves us and has great plans for us can live through us. It won’t be easy and will require lots of reflection, sacrifice, prayer, and patience, but imagine what could happen if you made that change. A life where Jesus is continuously increasing seems like a life filled with the things that matter most: love, peace, joy, hope, and lots of grace.

Discussion Questions: What occupies the “greater” category in your life? Are there things that need to become less? How can Jesus become greater in your life?

See more devotions from Alyssa and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself, at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.