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Discover the Book - Oct. 27, 2007

  • 2007 Oct 27

Lessons in Humility from John the Baptist

Part 2 Conclusion continued from October 26th


Whatever the cost or discomfort, it did not matter. All he wanted was to be a voice for God, a tool in His Hand and allow what God would give him from Heaven to be his sacred duty. And that simple, child-like faith, and humble service are what Christ's words about John being great are reflecting. 

John the Baptist had a deeply held conviction a conviction: all ministry and blessing come from God, so there can be no competition (John 3:27). Paul would have agreed with this (1 Cor. 3:1–9; 4:1–7). Since all our gifts and opportunities come from the Lord, then whatever He does with those gifts through us is totally His will—but the end result must always be that He alone must get the glory.   

Fourth, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his eyes to Christ,  

John 3:30a “He must increase…” 

John the Baptist had a longer for Christ to be magnified. He wanted to get all of the attention onto Christ and off of himself. That is the heart’s desire of the humble. Proud people want recognition, the humble want all the glory and honor and recognition to go the Lord. 

In the process, as Paul says, “with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord...being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).  

The supreme desire of those who minister humbly in the power of the Holy Spirit, staying close to the Cross, and remembering to stay crucified to self is to become more and more like Jesus.  He increases, we see Him more and more clearly.

1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. 

Fifth, John the Baptist was humble because he closed his heart to self-seeking.  

John 3:30b “…but I must decrease.” 

Humility destroys self-absorbtion, self-preoccupation, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance. My desire become nothing compared to Christ's which become everything.  

This humility is nowhere more beautifully expressed than when Paul confessed: 

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).  

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

Sixth, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his heart to spend much time in prayer.  

Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 


We usually think of John the Baptist as a prophet and martyr, and yet our Lord’s disciples remembered him as a man of prayer. John was a “miracle baby,” filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born, and yet he had to pray. He was privileged to introduce the Messiah to Israel, and yet he had to pray. Jesus said that John was the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28), and yet John had to depend on prayer. If prayer was that vital to a man who had these many advantages, how much more important it ought to be to us who do not have these advantages!  

John’s disciples had to pray and Jesus’ disciples wanted to learn better how to pray. They did not ask the Master to teach them how to preach or do great signs; they asked Him to teach them to pray. We today sometimes think that we would be better Christians if only we had been with Jesus when He was on earth, but this is not likely. The disciples were with Him and yet they failed many times! They could perform miracles, and yet they wanted to learn to pray.  

But the greatest argument for the priority of prayer is the fact that our Lord was a Man of prayer. Luke shows more of Christ's prayers than any other of the Gospels.

Luke records seven times Christ prays: He prayed at His baptism (Luke 3:21), before He chose the Twelve (Luke 6:12), when the crowds increased (Luke 5:16), before He asked the Twelve for their confession of faith (Luke 9:18), and at His Transfiguration (Luke 9:29), at Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46), and on the Cross (Luke 23:34). 

If Jesus who was perfect, the very Son of God, needed so much prayer during “the days of His flesh” (Heb. 5:7), then how much more do we need to pray!  

Seventh, John the Baptist was humble because he opened his mouth to praise.  

Mark 1:7-8 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.8 “I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

Nothing is more powerful about humility than the increased freedom in worship. Remember how Paul described true believers as humble-worshipers? Those two, humilty and worship seem to be tied.  

Look at Philippians 3:3

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 

Worship flows from a humble heart. This is Paul enlarging upon this worship filled life of the humble. Paul is saying that worship flows from the life emptied of selfishness and pride. When we are liberated from the tyranny of our own self-driven agenda and onto Christ's we find worship rising from our lives. 

Much worship these days is so self-generated, self-focused, and self-exalting. From musicians to performers there seems to be a drive to be recognized, seen, honored and sought after. But isn’t all that what the Lord also desires? Isn’t pride competing with God for the glory? 

So Paul is here giving us a … 

Lesson in Godly Humility 

[1] Moody Monthly, 11/86, p. 19-20.

[2] These ideas are from Thomas Watson as quoted by MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 5, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983



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