It’s a well-known idiom. But to me, it means something more.
One of my favorite people in the Bible is John the Baptist. I preach about him quite a bit. And today is no different. After all, John the Baptist ranks among the most humble of any human in Scripture.
John is noted for saying, “‘He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease’” (John 3:30 ESV).
Preparing the way for Christ, John the Baptist was not liked by many. This landed him a spot in prison. He did nothing wrong. But John was unwilling to compromise his commitment to the Gospel.
One day, as he suffered in prison, John the Baptist struggled with doubt. He sent two of his followers to ask Jesus whether or not He was the true Messiah (see Luke 7:18-20).
“And he [Jesus] answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me’” (v. 22-23 ESV).
Evidently, that’s all Jesus desired John to know. Because that’s all He told John’s disciples. This story is also recorded in Matthew 11, and Christ’s response is the same.
However, both Matthew and Luke continue their accounts with some verses that really intrigue me. Let’s take a gander.
Luke writes, “When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John …” (v. 24 ESV). To be more specific, Jesus began speaking highly of John. He was encouraging John. Praising John. Just take a look.
Jesus says, “‘What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet… . I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he’” (v. 26, 28 ESV).
I mean, think about it. John the Baptist is behind bars. Awaiting his death. Don’t you think a little encouragement would help? Don’t you think a little word from the Messiah would strengthen John’s spirit? Yet, for some reason, Jesus decides to wait until the messengers leave before talking John up. This amazes me.
A guy who had just listened to Jesus exalt John should’ve walked to his jail cell, squinted through those bars, and whispered, “John, you don’t know the half of it.”
Because here’s the truth: we all die without knowing the full measure of our influence. We really don’t know who we inspire on a daily basis for the Gospel. Believe it or not, people watch me and you every single day. They listen to what we say. And the difference we make? We don’t even know.
With that being said, let me tell you a personal story.
As a young preacher, I often struggle with doubting my influence. I wonder how many people are touched by my messages. I wonder how much of a difference I really make for the Kingdom. And this often leads to me measuring my influence by social media. My followers on Instagram. My likes on Facebook. And it always leaves me disappointed. After all, social media is not an accurate depiction of my influence. But I attempt to follow the cultural trend of measuring everything.
After writing last week’s message, I struggled with some of those thoughts. I doubted my influence. I questioned my value. It was bombarding my head. And then, something happened.
While walking to my grandmother’s house, a man passed me on his golf cart. Then, he slammed on his brakes. Before I knew it, he was speaking to me.
“Hey, I just wanted to tell you that you are helping people. My wife and I have been going through some stuff, and the things you’ve been posting have been spot-on. Keep it up!” With that, I thanked him. And off he sped. I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.
Truth is, I barely know this guy. To my knowledge, he doesn’t follow me on any social media platform. I’m not sure if he gets the Friday paper or not. All I know is that somehow, someway, I’m influencing his family.
As I continued my stroll, I whispered to myself, “You don’t know the half of it.”
I want to encourage you today. I’m not sure what kinds of battles you face when it comes to your influence. But we all have them. Why? Because humanity longs to have a purpose. Make a difference. And influence the lives of others.
Do you think your job is insignificant? Do you feel as if you lack talent? Do you believe there’s no use getting up in the morning? Do you wonder if someone really counts on you? Needs you? Treasures you? The truth is, people admire you. There’s more meaning to your life than what can be measured. Just ask John.
You don’t know the half of it.
Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at www.isaiahpauley.com, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.