“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
- Paul in Philippians 3:13-14
Throughout the New Testament we see that the Apostle Paul is presented as the model Christian. Not only is his life implicitly worthy of imitating, but there are also places where Paul explicitly calls his people to imitate his example. “Brethren, join in following my example” he says in Philippians 3:17. While he acknowledges that he has not yet attained full maturity (“I do not regard myself . . .”), his passion for the gospel mission is intense and focused. What was Paul’s secret? What set him apart from others who also aspired to make an impact for Christ?
A ONE-THING MAN
While there are certainly several factors that could be named to answer that question, perhaps the strongest of Paul’s characteristics was that he was a “ONE-THING MAN.” When Paul found something or someone who captured his soul, he poured all his resources into that channel and went after that with all his might, holding nothing in reserve. When he was a Pharisee, he went after his religious pursuits with unrivaled zeal. That was his one thing, and he was utterly committed to that life. Nothing was more important to Paul than being a passionate Pharisee. Nothing, that is, until the day he met Jesus Christ on the Damascus road. In an instant, his world was demolished by the appearance of the risen Christ, and never again would Paul pursue religion. Paul remained a ONE-THING MAN, but now he had a new “one-thing” to pursue. Now his world was consumed with the pursuit of Christ; to know Him, to obey Him, to pour body and soul into accomplishing the mission that Christ had given him.
Since Paul is our example, and Paul is a one-thing man, I must ask myself the question, “Am I a one-thing man?” And if I am a one-thing man, what is the one thing that is consuming me and for which I will gladly give up all?
It is obvious that God would have us all be one-thing disciples. If that is the case, the challenge is to try to understand how to integrate the various activities of life into the mindset of the one-thing disciple. For example, how do I manifest the attitude of a one-thing man in a mundane and often-frustrating job? How do I discipline my children as a one-thing man?
Part of my task is to identify my unique mission and then focus on accomplishing that mission. Also, however, I need to do that with grace such that I am a winsome witness for the Lord as I am pressing toward the goal for the prize.
I desire to be a one-thing man like Paul. Have I effectively forsaken all for the sake of the gospel? Would those who know me best agree that I am a ONE-THING MAN?
Let’s pour all that we have into the one channel holding nothing back so that we might win the prize.
SDG rmb 11/29/2018