The response of John the Baptist to those who brought him the report of Jesus’ early ministry provides a glimpse into more than John’s humility. He refused to be drawn into the “comparison syndrome” that lurks to find a place in the soul of any of us who lead in our local congregation.
See the setting in John 3:22-24. The essence of the report given to John was comparison: “Jesus’ crowds are bigger than yours!” It’s a sting we all can identify with—whether it inflicts a wound passively tolerated, or evokes outright irritation.
Whether such a moment brings open disgust or silent discouragement, I believe the event is recorded in God’s Word to speak to leaders like you and me. I’ve also found I’ve needed the text’s lesson pressing from either direction, as well—when any comparison has put me in the lesser or the larger position.
The text offers multiple lessons, not only regarding its inherent warning and call to outgrow the carnal habit so common to our humanity. John had a two-edged response to the report. His frank response (John 3:27-36) basically affirmed:
- The glory of Jesus’ mission as unique and beyond comparison with his (vv. 27-32).
- How Jesus’ ministry was transcendently resourced (“For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure” v. 34, NKJV).
The blessing and generosity of the Father’s immeasurable endowing of the Holy Spirit’s power for Jesus’ fulfillment of His mission and ministry are cited.
Further, though some translators and commentators either sidestep or cautiously interpret the broader scope of the Holy Spirit’s unlimited availability to capacitate the full mission of any of us, God “sends” Jesus’ own words—personally spoken to His disciples after His resurrection—to secure the issue conclusively: He breathed on them, and said to them: “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:19-23).
It is this message—this “word” from the Word of God—I want to leave with you. It is a truth that has been more than a fundamental beginning point for my turning to a full dependence on the Holy Spirit that took place 50 years ago, when I was 10 years into the ministry as a Foursquare pastor. And I ask you to note that, whatever situation occurs in your ministry that seems to be distressing, discouraging, debilitating or on the brink of defeating you, this truth is applied.
You have been sent at the time of your call. And entering that pursuit, notwithstanding whatever may have happened or is happening, the Lord has not altered His promise. You are sent—and He is ready and inviting you to open today to a fresh anointing, to a new season of His power, bringing clarity of mind, renewing simplicity of heart, forgiving and freeing you from concessions to self or the compromise of His way.
The Holy Spirit is available in an unlimited way to break the limitations you may face, and to pave the way in the limitless horizons of the season ahead—and the richness of His joy-filled presence, abounding into the future of the plans and purposes He has had for you—since He first sent you!
- Pray for your protection and strength against unhealthy comparison.
- Ask God to show you ways you can “decrease,” so that He may “increase.”
- Pray for God’s unlimited Holy Spirit power to break through any limitations to your ministry, and submit to His leading.
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