John the Baptist: camel hair clothing, locust and honey diet, fiery rhetoric; what a strong personality shaped by the power of the Holy Spirit! Yet to me, it is John’s humility that stands out. He knew, firstly, that “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven (John 3:27, ESV).” Secondly, he was clear on his job—“I am not the Christ, but have been sent before him (John 3:28).” And finally, he recognized concerning Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30, NIV).” Here is a man who understood and accepted his God-given role. He was the forerunner of Christ, and once he had announced Him and baptized Him, he stepped out of the way, yielding center-stage to Jesus.
When we arrived in Hawaii, the kids discovered an Oahu-based Christian clothing company inspired by this distinctive humility of John the Baptist. Called HE>i (HE is greater than i), the company’s goal is “to produce quality clothing and accessories to encourage, inspire, and share the good news of our savior, Jesus.” Read more about HE>i here: http://hegreaterthani.com/pages/about-us. Not long ago, we drove up to the company’s North Shore location, where I picked out my very own HE>i shirt, which also includes the words “Aloha Ke Akua (God is love)”—such a cool way to represent Christ in Hawaii!
Fast-forward a few weeks from my shirt purchase to a busy Saturday afternoon. I ran into our local wholesale warehouse to pick up a few items (four, to be exact), while my husband and children got in line outside to order frozen yogurt for a much-needed treat on a hot day. Quickly grabbing what I needed, I headed to the check-out area, only to be stopped short by the sight of very long lines. My jaw tensing with frustration and my mind picturing my soon-to-be melting frozen yogurt outside, I chose a line that I hoped would move quickly. The line moved at a snail’s pace, but fortunately for me, the children in front of me provided plenty of entertainment by running figure eights around my cart and their mom’s. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally reached the cashier, who soon informed me with consternation that she could neither scan nor key in my card—something was wrong with it. Clenching my teeth, and yearning for my rapidly melting frozen yogurt, I dutifully moved my cart of four items to the front of the store to speak with a manager. After watching her unsuccessfully try to locate my account amongst the 500,000 people named Lisa Davis who came up in her computer search, my frustration almost came streaming out of my mouth. My card just worked for a gas purchase, why will it not work now? Why can’t you search by my address instead of my name? Most importantly, WHY don’t you have a quick-check line in this store for those of us who only need FOUR items, and who have now-liquid frozen yogurt waiting for us outside? But before I opened my mouth, I looked down at my shirt. Yes, that day I just happened to be wearing my new HE>i shirt. At that moment, I swallowed all those things I wanted to say in a not-so-nice way, and instead smiled and asked if it would work if I went out and got my husband’s card to scan for the purchase.
Successfully checked out at last, I slurped down my cup of not-so-frozen yogurt with a guilty conscience. Why do I allow circumstances and people to frustrate me so much? Why do I expect a store to cater to my needs during its busiest hours on its busiest day? Most of all, WHY does it take a t-shirt to remind me to behave in a Christ-like way?
What if, instead of asserting my own “rights,” I considered the needs of others above my own (Philippians 2:3)? What if I took the opportunity to build a relationship with the manager, who was clearly doing everything in her power to solve my problem (and with a great attitude!)? What if my heart was so filled with God’s Word and thankfulness that positivity, instead of negativity, flowed naturally out of my mouth (Luke 6:45)? Oh Lord, may I, like John the Baptist, demonstrate strength in humility. May “I” just get out of the way and let Christ take center-stage.