Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
"He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn 3:30)

We are called to be like John the Baptist who burnt himself out to shine for God (Jn 5:35). We desire to shine for Jesus but we are not ready to burn out for Him. We want to be like electric bulbs; but God is looking for candles, which melt away in the process of giving light. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) burnt out for God in his missionary service in China.

He challenged the Christians, "God is looking for some wicks to burn. The oil and the fire are free!" Bearing of the Cross and dying to self are not an one-day affair. It's a lifetime exercise. Apostle Paul summarized his life of self-denial in 2 Corinthians 6:9,10, "Not I but Christ!" He testified, "We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive … We own nothing, and yet we have everything!"

Evangelist D.L. Moody (1837-1899) was honest when he confessed, "I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than with any man I ever met!" Self-denial is the supreme sacrifice. It means saying "no" to the self-gratifying desires of the flesh, to the self-promoting appeals of the world, and to the self-feeding temptations of the devil (1 Jn 2:15,16). Every act of self-denial takes us forward in Christian life. As a man goes down in self he goes up in God. Unless I decrease, Christ in me cannot increase!

If we follow Jesus, we must be ready to face literal scorn on the road to eventual martyrdom. From the moment of faith believers must count their lives forfeit for the Kingdom. Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem. We are also called to "go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach" (Heb 13:12,13).
 
One has to work against internal and external forces if he should keep on witnessing. Church history, why, even the world history, will be only blank pages if we remove the word "sacrifice" from them. David Livingstone (1813-1873) had to singlehandedly bury his wife in the dark Continent of Africa where he had gone as a missionary-explorer. William Carey (1761-1834), who came as a missionary and Bible translator to Bengal in India, had to perform the last rites for his wife all by himself. Such lamps of sacrifice are still burning!

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning;
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray;
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning;
Keep me burning till the break of day!
 
R. Stanley