This week, I overheard my husband talking to someone about a book he had read called “The One Thing.” It focused on the results you could get from being focused on one thing instead of many in a certain area of life. It’s a book that gives readers the challenge to focus on one thing in their finances, or one thing in their relationships, or one thing in their work, etc and to watch how that single focus, that one-thing, that one practice, will produce dramatic results in their lives. Health experts will encourage you to make one change in your diet like giving up soda or to add one thing like a half hour walk every day and that over time, and if you do, you will see a great benefit. I think the one thing it might take for me is to have my jaw wired shut, but I digress. Sometimes, because we are involved in so many things or so many things are clamoring for our attention, just focusing on the one thing that could really help us, becomes difficult.
As I thought about the one-thing concept, I remembered there were some Scriptures that encouraged “one-thing” thinking, so I googled them.
The first one is found in Psalm 27:4, and it is a prayer of David. It’s a “one-thing” prayer. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
To understand what the Lord’s presence meant to David, you have to read the whole chapter. Verses one and two say, The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
We live in a dark world. We need to be able to clearly see what is really happening around us. We need to understand where God is in the midst of the darkness. Seeking the presence of the Lord means seeking light. He went on to say the Lord was his salvation and that he didn’t need to fear anyone. Something about the presence of the Lord gave him confidence and peace. It wiped away fear and anxiety.
Verse 3: Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. I don’t know what has come against you or your family. I don’t know what war is raging in your life, but if you need confidence that all will be well, the ONE THING you need is to seek the presence of the Lord. He went on in verse 5 to talk about how the presence of God would protect and keep him safe. In verse 13 he talked about experiencing the goodness of God in his life and circumstances. Listen, you will recognize God’s goodness, His work, His miraculous power more and more if you are singly focused on His presence in your life. A preoccupation with the presence of God enables you to see what He is up to.
I would say one thing to pray is, “God, help me experience Your presence in my life so that I am confident, am at peace and can see Your goodness in every circumstance.”
The second “one-thing” thought comes from Mark chapter ten where Jesus was having a conversation with someone who was powerful. We learn from another Gospel writer that he was a Ruler of sorts. We also read from the story that he was wealthy. He asked Jesus how he could gain eternal life. He was coming to the right Person with that question, wasn’t he? Here is Jesus’ response in Mark 10:21. Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
I love that the text says that Jesus looked at him and loved him. There was no doubt in the Rich Young Ruler’s mind that Jesus was coming at him from a place of love. Jesus was giving him the honest and direct answer to his question.
Verse 22 gave us the man’s response: At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. He had come for eternal life, but he left dejected. He left sad. He rejected the love of Jesus for the love of position and money. Jesus had said to him, “One thing you lack.” In the world’s eyes, the Rich Young Ruler had it all. Jesus didn’t see it that way. Jesus told him he lacked the most important thing, a heart for Jesus above all else. In order for the Rich Young Ruler to learn what it meant to have a heart devoted to God, he had to let go of the things that were occupying a preeminent place in his heart. He wasn’t willing to let go of the idols in his life, to release his power and wealth. They were more important to him than eternal life, more important to him than Jesus’ love, and he left Jesus’ presence, powerful and wealthy but sad. If we want to live satisfied, fulfilled and content, instead of sad and dejected, we need a one-thing passion for Jesus above all else.
The third “one-thing” thought comes from John 9. We read there that Jesus healed a blind man. The blind man who was healed was questioned by his neighbors and others about his healing. He told them Jesus healed him by putting mud on his eyes and telling him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The man did, and he was healed, but they didn’t believe his story, so they took him to the Pharisees so they could “investigate the healing.” There were multiple question and answer sessions, and finally, the man declared one thing…He said in verse 25, “One thing I know, I was blind but now I see!”
What a stunning response! One thing I do know! Jesus made the difference. That is a one-thing proclamation that will change the world! What one thing do you know about what Jesus has done for you that you can share with someone else?
The fourth “one-thing” passage is in Luke 10:38-42. Jesus was at Mary and Martha’s house. Mary was at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teaching. Martha was distracted by getting a meal ready. The two sisters clearly had different priorities. Well, Martha was upset that Mary wasn’t in the kitchen helping her, so much so that she came into the room where Jesus was teaching Mary and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary had chosen the one thing that mattered most in that particular situation. She had an opportunity to sit and learn at Jesus’ feet and she took advantage of it. In that moment, there was one thing to pursue, and it was learning from the Master. Dinner prep could wait. To sit at the feet of a rabbi was the posture of a disciple. Mary wasn’t just trying to get out of work; she was seeking to learn from Jesus as a disciple would. Pursuing the knowledge of Christ and pursuing knowledge from Christ should be our highest pursuit. Mary did, and she wasn’t the one worried or upset about many things. Perhaps a one-thing, intentional pursuit of Jesus, will keep us from unnecessary worry and fear.
The last “one-thing” Scripture is found in Philippians 3:12-14. Paul had just said he wanted to know Christ in order to replicate Jesus’ life on earth. He went on to say this:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
First of all, Paul said he was doing one thing, but then he said he was forgetting what was behind and that he was straining toward what was ahead. That sounds like two things to me. I would say that the two things are really one thing. Paul decided to live a future-focused life. His one thing was a forward press toward the things of Heaven. Paul said he wasn’t going to let who he was before Christ or what he had done or even his reputation for doing those things deter or distract him from a call toward victory in Christ. He was going to Heaven, and he was going to take as many people with him as possible.
Paul had a very bad past, but he had decided to live future-focused. He had been a persecutor of the church. He had murdered Christians. He was meaner than a junkyard dog. He had to live with what he had done when he came to Christ, yes, but he now had something new to live for…He had Christ to live for. Maybe it isn’t your past, but it is something else that is keeping you from growing in the upward way in Jesus. What one thing do you need to put behind you in order to move forward with Jesus?
If you had to pick one of the five “one-things” to focus on in your life, which one would it be?
Would you choose the One-thing Prayer to actively seek the presence of God on a regular basis?
Would you seek to cultivate a One-thing Passion for Jesus above all else?
Would you try to find ways to share a One-thing Proclamation, a one thing testimony about what Christ has done for you?
Maybe you would choose the One-thing Pursuit of spending regular time sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Or perhaps you have gotten stalled in seeking to do God’s will, in growing in the upward way with Jesus, maybe you need to focus on removing any hindrance so that you can make on a one-thing Press, the Press toward the things of Heaven.
Pick one, “one-thing” today, and ask God to help you accomplish it!