So . . . how did you do? What opportunities did you use to decrease for Jesus in 2019? This is a repost from one year ago. For myself, I see greater opportunity to continue decreasing in 2020.
We should always be willing to decrease that Christ will increase in our life. This will be ongoing for me! Numbers 2 & 3, I have made great progress and much more is needed. Number 4 . . . has been the biggest struggle for me in 2019 and will be a major focus for 2020.
So . . . how did you do? Leave a comment! It’s not too late! Get started!
The way up is down!
Humility is the road to exaltation!
A step back may be a step up!
Each one of these statements may be familiar, but are they also counterintuitive? Do they oppose common sense? How can the way up really be down? How can a step back really be a step up? In a natural sense, they may seem counterproductive, but they are exactly how we must govern ourselves, if we are going to be instrumental in the kingdom of God. This year is my year of dedicated decrease! While most people want to increase their money, status, possessions, I have made it my quest to embrace great decrease in my life in four primary areas. And here’s how I plan to do it!
This year, I plan to:
1. DECREASE so that Christ may increase in my life (John 3:30).
Every time I read John the Baptist’s response to his disciples who were concerned that Jesus was gaining greater popularity than John, my heart melts into a pool of admiration for John and love for the Savior. Oh, how John loved Jesus, commenting that he rejoiced at the mere sound of His voice. He never claimed to be the Christ, adding that he wasn’t even worthy to untie His shoes. And this is my stance in Christ.
There must be a determined decrease of self, if there is to be an increase of Jesus in our life. Consciously and conscientiously removing self from our thinking, our attitudes, our motives, our desires, and therefore our actions, is the only way to be content like the friend who rejoices simply because he hears the bridegroom’s voice (John 3:29). How is this done, you might ask? By turning our attention to Jesus and learning from Him! Reading the Word of God so that the Spirit draws upon what we have learned and embraced as we see Christ in Scripture. Little by little, we begin to change. Our view and our outlook will reflect our relationship with Christ, as we observe all things He did and taught. We must decrease that He will increase in us.
2. DECREASE in the stressors and demands for my time (Ephesians 5:15-16).
I don’t think I have to convince anyone concerning the adverse effects that stress and busyness can have upon one’s life. I find it so fascinating that no one has ever had the potential to be busier than Jesus Christ, yet He never appeared to be too busy. He never appeared to have even the faintest hint of stress as He ministered to others. Why was that? People constantly clamoring and vying for His attention, begging for a response; in some cases, demanding a response! Yet, Jesus was never hastened by the clock. He always had time—time for rest and time for relationship.
If this year is about decrease, and it is for me, I (we) need to be mindful about the use of time. A careful comparison of what we say we are called to do, and our day-to-day activities would prove beneficial. In most cases, our energy and efforts are spent doing everything but the one thing God has equipped us to do. This is both stressful and frustrating. And this way of living robs us of the rest and the rewarding relationships that Jesus enjoyed and encouraged us to enjoy as well. Jesus was certain of His purpose. When we are certain of our purpose, it will be easier to weed out the things that do not belong as a staple in our lives. Purpose, when understood properly, leads to right priorities. Right priorities will allow time for rejuvenating rest and rewarding relationships.
3. DECREASE in the physical clutter in my surroundings (Matthew 6:19).
It’s hard—or perhaps impossible—to be mentally clear when you are surrounded by tremendous physical clutter. Why do we need so much anyway? We don’t. For most of us, we keep piling it on and bringing it in without getting rid of anything. For example, our shed has a spare over-the-range microwave! Who needs a spare that you never intend to use again—ever? Spare lawnmowers that need just the right part—and the time to fix it, mind you. Spare bubble-back televisions that we can’t even give away, because they are too old for the addendums to today’s televisions.
This is going to be an earnest effort for me this year. I’ve already started giving away useful things and throwing out the things that are clearly past its prime. It’s amazing the connection the brain makes between physical clutter and mental clutter. When surroundings are somewhat neat and orderly, thought processes tend to be as well. We are not divided between what begs our attention (the unkempt room) and what needs our attention (our purpose). Moving clutter from place to place does two things, for sure. It’s causes us to do it repeatedly; and it keeps us from doing what we are called to do for the kingdom. Getting rid of the clutter, finally, so that everything has a specific place and use is the key to achieving and maintaining order—in the mind and in our surroundings, too.
As we advance in age, we become painful aware of our physical limitations and the predisposition to certain chronic illnesses. Weight comes on rapidly in the middle years—physically inactive people can lose as much as 5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30. Startling. Even those who are physically active may have some muscle loss, slowing down their metabolism. But as we age, we don’t want the natural events that occur with age to infringe upon our fortitude. We want to be in good health, full of the energy and the vitality we need to wax stronger and stronger in God’s purpose for our lives.
Telltale signs such as weight, blood pressure, body fat percentage, BMI, waist circumference and lab values are all indicators of good health or the lack thereof. My numbers are not too bad right now, but I don’t want them to rise out of control. So, I’m taking aim at the decrease! I’ve already put into place an activity plan and an eating plan (lots of prayer concerning the eating plan, please) to help me slice the numbers down to an acceptable range. The mind and the body are intertwined; therefore, having great physical health will promote an overall emotional and mental well-being, which is so important as we endeavor to live like Jesus.
Will you join me in the DECREASE?
What can you decrease this year that will be beneficial to you as you intentionally live out your God-ordained purpose? Is it your time on social media? Is it your spending?
How will you do it? Let’s talk. Leave me a comment! You would be helping me and others, too.