No Room for Competition or Comparison


My late grandmother, a wise, Christ-loving woman of deep faith, once looked at me when I was beginning to assume an air of self-confidence as an aspiring athlete and gently reminded, “My son, pride sings the song, ‘How great you are’ while humility sings, ‘How great God is.’” Her words resonated with the straight-up reminder from James 4:6 that leaves no room for misunderstanding: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humility is not thinking less of yourself. Humility is thinking of yourself less. In today’s passage we learn, and are encouraged by, the selfless example of John.

  • What areas of accomplishment in your life cause you to sing “How great I am”?


22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 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.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 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. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Reread verses 22-26. Describe the sin issue that potentially could have created division and a lack of eternal perspective.
  2. How do you struggle with this sin issue today?
  3. John lays out some life-altering, paradigm-shifting truths in verses 27-29. In your own words, what was John passionately communicating in these 3 verses?
  4. John puts an exclamation mark on his role by giving his followers a clear view of his purpose and role when compared to Jesus (see verse 30). What would this truth look like today if it were true of your motives, attitudes and actions?


John did not want anyone to follow him. His ministry was to point to Jesus and to urge people to trust him. Competition and comparison have the potential, on a human level, to thwart or completely stop the work of God. John understood what a foolish thing it would have been to attempt to “upstage” Jesus by assuming his place as the ultimate. John insisted that Jesus had to increase in popularity, and that he, John, had to decrease.   

  • Prayerfully consider what prevents you from wholeheartedly saying these words, “Jesus, you must increase, but I must decrease.”
  • Spend a moment thanking God for the supremacy of Jesus—his life of humility, his selfless death, and his marvelous resurrection which proves once and for all that sin (pride) and death have been defeated.