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This Lent, Less Is More

In this excerpt of 40 Days of Decrease, author Alicia Britt Chole explains why decrease is a spiritual necessity this Lenten season.

Prayer by candlelight; Getty Images

Taken from 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast by Alicia Britt Chole Copyright © 2015 by Alicia Britt Chole. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. 

Decrease is a spiritual necessity. John the Baptist was the first among Jesus’ followers to grasp its counter-cultural power. “Less is more” is a popular simplicity mantra in our day. But John’s understanding of “less is more” was spiritually profound. Gabriel had announced John’s life-calling to Zechariah before John was even conceived: John was the one who, “in the spirit and power of Elijah…[would] make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). In many ways, John lived a Lenten lifestyle 365 days a year. 

His diet was narrow, his possessions were minimal, and his focus was eternal. But decrease for John was less about assets and more about attention. His longing was to draw his generation’s attention and allegiance to the Messiah.

From John’s perspective, the true value of people seeing him was that people would then be positioned to see through him and gaze at Jesus. By willingly decreasing, John increased others’ view of the Savior.

Attention is not innately evil. It becomes evil when used as a self-serving end instead of a God-serving means. Those who steward attention as means and not end stand tall and serve strong, knowing that all gifts come from God and can therefore draw attention to God. Praise slides off such souls like water off a window into a cup that is offered to God alone. Surrounded by swelling crowds, John directed his fans to Jesus.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:29-31)

John decreased so others could see the Lamb. John decreased so others could follow the One who preceded and surpassed him. John decreased so that the Messiah would be revealed in John’s lifetime.

May our decrease likewise increase our generation’s view of Jesus.

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