The rule to replace all Christian rules ...

To increase in Christ, we must decrease!

"He must increase, and I must decrease." (John 3:20)

John H. Jowett: And yet that very decrease is the secret of sure growth. This sort of decrease is really a making of room for Christ. Our self-importance shrinks, and we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. It is when we are full of self, self-opinionated, self-centered, self-seeking, that Christ is crowded out. That was the deadliness of much of the Pharisaism in the time of our Lord.

The life of the Pharisee was chock-full of self. Self ran over. It was like a warehouse which is so crowded that part of the stuff is piled outside around the door. You could not go near a Pharisee without running against his egotism. You were always touching his pride. It bulged out in everything, even in his prayers. "I thank Thee that I am not as other men; I fast twice in the week, I give tithes" [Luke 18:11]. There is no room there for the Savior. The house is too full. It is crammed with swelling self-conceit.

That was the deadly element in the life of the Pharisee. He would not decrease. He would not become poor in spirit. And so, perhaps, in a very wide sense we may say that increase in the Christian life consists in making room for Christ. And if we knew it, it is in this one thing that we have the secret of everything. For even in the Christian life we are apt to cumber ourselves with many things.

We may have too many rules. We have rules for this, and rules for that, and rules for the other. And it is like having a multitude of rules for playing golf. "Fifteen rules for the approach shot! Twenty rules to observe on the green!" And what a muddle we should make of it! And I am little or no better when I try to follow some books of devotion. Jeremy Taylor's "Holy Living" puts me into bonds. "Twenty rules to observe in prayer"! "Twenty rules for the cultivation of charity"! And so on, and so on. I am over-harnessed. Nay, the harness burdens me more than my appointed load. So I return very eagerly to Him who said, "Come unto Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Well, this is the one great secret in the Christian life - making room for Christ. The royal way is just to decrease in everything, and to let His increase be our strength and glory. Suppose we concentrated on that, and put all other rules on one side. Let the concentration be detailed and particular. I mean, break up life's days and take each circumstance as it comes, whether it be grave or gaudy, large or small. Let us meet each circumstance in this attitude, and with this spirit: "In this particular circumstance I must make room for Christ. He must increase, and I must decrease. It must be filled with His presence, and the happening must now and hereafter be fragrant with His grace." Surely this would make the long range of daily events one radiant line of consecration.

That seems to have been the way of the Apostle Paul. Here is his secret: "For to me to live is Christ" [Phil. 1:21]. What is that but making room for Christ in everything? And here he states the secret again: "I live, yet not I, Christ liveth in me." Self decreases almost to the point of extinction - "Not I" - the apostle becomes complete in Christ. And so our hymn gives us the appointed attitude and aspiration:

"O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede."

By John H. Jowett, Chapter XLII in "The Friend on the Road", New York: George H. Duran, 1922

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