Have you seen those videos where a parent offers a piece of candy or something sweet to a toddler and asks them not to eat it? A friend of mine did this recently. They put a piece of candy on the night stand with their two year old looking at it. They told him, “Mommy is going to get something in the other room. Don’t eat that until I get back. Ok?” She walked out of the room for about 30 seconds to a minute. This kid could hardly take his eyes off the candy while she was gone. He licked his lips a couple of times, looked at the door , looked back at the candy and waited? It was fun to watch. Im not sure I could have waited!
John the Baptist was a unique and incredible guy. Despite his looks, diet and living conditions, he amassed a huge following. He preached a powerful message of repentance and it caused many hearts to turn back to God. Not long after he baptized Jesus, the crowds began to grow around Him as well. Even some of John’s followers left him to follow Jesus. Some of his other followers began to get jealous that the crowds around Jesus were larger than theirs. John quickly responded that he had told them he wasn’t the Messiah. Then in John 3:30 he told them that Jesus must increase and he must decrease.
There’s a constant battle in all of us very similar to both of these stories. We have a strong desire pulling us toward what we want and a spirit inside pulling us toward what God desires. 1 Peter 4:2 says, “So live the rest of your earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God” (TPT). It’s tough to do. John had the right heart and attitude that we should have. We must remember that life is not about us or our desires. We have to live with eternity in mind and choose to let God’s desires and plans increase in our life instead of our own. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek first the Kingdom of God. When we do that, everything else falls into place.
One day Archimedes was getting in his bathtub to take a bath. As he got in, the water spilled out over the sides. All of a sudden, he jumped up and yelled, “Eureka!” He thought he had discovered the law of displacement which is if you put one thing into the same space, it will displace the other thing in that space. Another example is from an article I read this week where fast food workers were tired of people asking to top off their drinks. Instead, they would take the cup and add ice to push their drink to the top. The unknowing customers happily left thinking they got more to drink. Now customers are feeling cheated because their drink was simply displaced by ice
In Luke 12, Jesus gave an illustration to show that our lives cannot be measured by our possessions. He told of a wealthy man who had a farm and had years of bumper crops come in. When his barn was full, he decided to build a bigger barn to hold all his crops so he could just sit back, relax and enjoy life with no worries. God showed up and called him a fool. He said, “This very night the messengers of death will demand to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?” (TPT) He had begun to trust in all these things and money he had earned in his life. In essence, they had displaced God in his life much like the ice in the cup.
In the next verse, 21, Jesus continued, “The same thing will happen to all those who fill up their lives with everything but God.” Each of us have things in our life that are displacing God. Sometimes it’s ourselves. Remember, John the Baptist in John 3:30 said that he needed to decrease so Christ could increase. It’s the law of displacement. Anything that we fill our lives with other than God, displaces Him. It could be money, possessions, work, relationships or whatever. If it takes our attention away from God, if it gets us to trust in something else besides Him or if it fills our mind, it displaces God. Take a look at your life to see what it’s filled with. If you want more of God, you’re going to have to displace them so God can occupy that space.
There are some lyrics to a song we sing at church that keep burning inside me. They say, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you, God.” We had sang that song at church many times before, but on a balcony in Haiti, it became my prayer. As we were having a time of worship in Gonaives, we sang that song and I started listening to the words. I began to internalize what they meant. I began to sing the song with more of a passion than a compulsion.
What does that look like to have a fire set in your soul? What does that feel like to have it burn without bring able to control it? What would happen to me if I truly wanted more of God in my life? Do I really, truly want that and what is the cost? We sing songs and read scriptures a lot without giving much thought to the words we are saying or reading. We rarely dig down deep and plant those words in our heart and mind.
God gives Himself to us to the extent that we allow room for Him. Too many Christians are like the inn keeper in Bethlehem. They have no room for Him, but they want Him, so they put Him in the stable of their lives. He doesn’t just want to be in your stable. He wants the entire inn of your life. He wants to come into every room you have locked up. He wants to fill you up, but you have to make room which means you have to get rid of things.
For me, I want more of Him than I have today. I want to give Him the keys to my inn. I want to kick out the guests of sin, control, security, lack of faith and fear. I want to be like John The Baptist in john 3:30 and say, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (NLT). The only way for that to happen is to set a Holy Fire within that gets rid of selfish desires so I can embrace all He has for me.
When my son was three, he started noticing that my wife orders her Coke at the restaurant with no ice. He asked her why she didn’t want ice and she said, “When you get ice, over time, it dilutes the drink. Plus, with ice, you get less of a drink because of displacement.” He then asked me, “Are you ‘No ice’ or ‘Yes ice’?” I told him, “‘Yes ice’ because I would rather my drink be cold than to have a lot of it.” That seemed to satisfy him, though I’m sure he didn’t understand.
If we imagine our lives as those cups, ourself as the ice, and Jesus as the drink, we can learn a spiritual concept. The more we have of ourselves inside of us, the less we can have of Jesus. If we want more of Him, we have to empty ourselves of selfish desires. The problem is that we prefer the cold, watered down version of Jesus because it’s comfortable to us. All the while, Jesus is asking us to get rid of the ice of self so we can be more like Him.
John the Baptist is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of a ‘No ice’ person. In John 3, his disciples came to Him and said, “Hey, that guy you baptized the other day, and testified that He was the Messiah, is baptizing people down the river and our people are going to Him!” In verse 30, John replied, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (AMP). He understood that his comfort wasn’t the most important thing. Letting Jesus increase was.
The question to each of us is, “Are you ‘No ice’ or ”Yes ice’?” Do you want to be full of Jesus or of yourself? If you want to be full of Jesus, then you must decrease so He can increase in your life. You’ve got to put His desires above your own. You must daily deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) in order to truly be a ‘No ice’ person. That’s struggle each of us face daily. We could all use a little less ice and a lot more Jesus.
When I picture John the Baptist, I picture a Grizzly Adams kind of man. Bearded, tough, and furry clothes. The Bible describes him as a guy who lived in the wilderness and ate locust. I wonder what people thought of him when they saw him. I wonder if they took one look at his exterior, made a judgement, and discounted his message or dismissed him as crazy. Sure, on the outside, he was rough, but on the inside was a heart and spirit we should all strive to have.
I believe he was able to amass a great following based on his heart. How many people do you know who have charismatic personalities, yet are very humble? Those two things rarely go together. Usually the person who enjoys being the center of attention doesn’t give it up happily, but John knew his place and his calling. When Jesus came along, he had no problem yielding the stage to Him. To me, that’s what admire most about him.
When some of his followers came to him to tell him that Jesus was baptizing not far away, they expected him to get upset. After all, his name was John the Baptist. Baptizing people was kind of his thing. His followers were a lot like us. They didn’t like to yield the stage, and they really didn’t like that Jesus was taking people from their ministry. How dare He? After all, it was John who baptized Jesus. But John knew what was going on and he didn’t let his pride get in the way of his calling
In John 3:30, John showed us what was behind his wild and rough exterior when he told his followers, “He must become more important while I become less important” (GNT). That’s the attitude that each of us should strive for each day. We should make Jesus more important in our life while we become less important. We should understand that our lives were created to serve His purpose, not ours. Each day, we should be looking for ways to have Him increase in our lives. If you want to fulfill your purpose, you have to lose the pride that tries to make your name known so you can make Him known.