Incense is not desired for what it looks like or feels like. It is appreciated for only one thing – its fragrance. As incense burns it releases a pleasant aroma. Eventually, the fire will completely consume the incense leaving no trace of its existence except for its beautiful aroma.
As Christ followers we are to be like incense. As we continually draw near to God we will be set on fire with the warmth of His Love. The stench of our fleshly selfishness will be replaced with the aroma of Christ. The more we are consumed, the more He is released. This is what means for us to decrease and for Him to increase.
The Apostle Paul writes: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.” 2 Cor 2:14-16 NIV
The more His Holy Fire consumes us the sweeter will be the aroma (presence) of Jesus. Unlike incense, that never chooses to be set on fire, we, as an act of our will, must choose to be ignited by God. Romans 12:1 states: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” (Amplified version) And, unlike the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament that were bound to the alter we can crawl off the alter any time we want! Those animals only had to do it once, we are called to be living sacrifices. Therefore, let us humbly choose to draw near to the fire of God’s presence and be utterly consumed that others may see only Jesus.
Remember, the Bible is not a self-help book – it is a self-replacement book. The world doesn’t need a better you, it needs Jesus. Let us say with Paul that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”