Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843) recognized the tendency for the believers of his day to become self-absorbed. The insightful young under-shepherd offered this wise counsel to his flock: “For every one look at self, take ten looks at Christ.” That’s a good thought. M’Cheyne would have us glance at ourselves and take long, soul-satisfying gazes at Jesus Christ.
Too often I struggle with a sinful bend toward a self-absorbed life: my family, my job, my baseball team, and my unfinished utility room. You feel that pull as well, don’t you?
And have you noticed that this self-centeredness can crop up most anywhere? For many of us, it comes in the form of a craving to consume information. With the world literally at our fingertips, we can easily be obsessed with everything that’s happening on planet earth from the newest coronavirus developments to the birth of those cute twin Pandas in Madrid. The internet is the perfect place to feed self-centeredness.
John the Baptist provided a worthy pattern for us as we consider taking the Scottish minister’s advice to heart - less of me and more of Christ.
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness - look, He is baptizing, and all are going to Him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:25-30).
The friend of the bridegroom is content in the shadows; he understands that the bridegroom deserves the attention. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). John the Baptist’s mission was to prompt others to look at Christ. “Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:29).
Then there is this command from Hebrews. The writer urges us to run life’s race with endurance “fixing our eyes on Jesus” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB 1995). One Greek lexicon defines “fixing” this way:
to look away from all else and fix one’s gaze upon.
By God’s grace, you and I have been given a place in the shadows alongside John the Baptist, M’Cheyene, and scores of other people of faith. And from the shadows, our kind God teaches us what it means to turn from self and to glory in His beloved Son.
And I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Wellspring of my soul.
And I will trust in Him, no other,
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.
“My Worth Is Not My Own,” Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick
Christ, who is your life (Colossians 3:4).
Verses for reflection: Matthew 3:16-17 (God’s beloved Son), Revelation 19:16 (King of kings and Lord of lords), John 1:41 (Messiah), John 8:12 (the light of the world), John 6:48-51 (the bread of life), John 15:1-11 (the true vine), John 10:11-18 (the good shepherd), John 1:29 and Revelation 5:12 (the Lamb), Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 3:18 (the suffering servant), Matthew 28:5-6 (the risen Savior), and Revelation 19:11-16 (the returning ruler).
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