In his message on the importance of being singleminded, Leroy Eims mentioned that there are three ways to waste your life. The first of these, he relates, is to give way to a lazy, slothful nature. Although not common in success driven cultures, we still see this in some people. This may be driven by a desire for pleasure, or merely the result of procrastination. This attitude is reflected by aiming for the minimum standards, or as an employer remarked about an employees’ evaluation, “He consistently sets low standards for himself and then fails to meet them.” Proverbs 20:4 describes the result of laziness as follows. “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.”
A more common cause of wasting your life, Leroy states, is to have the wrong goal for your life. Many there are who climb the ladder of success only to find out at the end of their lives that it was leaning on the wrong building. Businesses are built, corporations are formed, and these individuals are highly acclaimed in our newspapers. As you look more closely, you can see personal lives crumble, families dissolve and at the end of life there are nothing but regrets. The Lord describes the life of those with the wrong goals in this passage. “And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. Then he said, This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12 16-21)
The most common among the three reasons that Leroy gives is simply having too many goals for our lives. We may have a sincere desire to know Christ better in our lives, but alongside this objective are those which motivate us to expend extra effort to be competitive in our business, to advance our reputation as a business person in the community, to be known for our charity work, or to excel in our hobbies and sports. To this attitude of mind our Lord comes with the same question He asked Peter. “Do you truly love me more than these? (John 21:15) He states in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” and again in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters.” Even in our lives of service to the Lord we cannot let ministry for Him take the place that He alone should occupy in our lives. Such was the error of the church at Ephesus to whom the Lord spoke these words. “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.”…..”Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2:2,4-5)
In the scriptures we are given a glimpse at three individuals whose lives were characterized by singlemindedness. They sought but one thing in their lives. Over the centuries, their lives have continued to be studied, and their examples form a basis for understanding the one thing that the Lord desires for our lives as well. The first of these is David, described as a “man after God’s own heart.” In Psalm 27:4 he writes “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” David’s one thing was to behold the beauty of the LORD. The LORD Himself was the focus of his life. As a result of making this the one thing in his life, the LORD was able to manifest Himself to and through David during his life.
The Apostle Paul describes the one thing in his life in Philippians 3:13-14. “Brothers, 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul describes this prize more fully in Ephesians 4:13. “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” and again in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Paul’s one thing was conformity to the person of Jesus Christ. Everything else in Paul’s life proceeded as a result of this one thing.
Perhaps the most compelling picture we see in scripture is the third person whose life exemplified the one thing. This person is mentioned only three times in the Bible and in each instance we find her at the feet of Jesus. The first occasion is described in Luke 10:42. “But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” The one thing that Mary chose was to spend time at the feet of Jesus. It was here, as a disciple, that she learned to follow Jesus. In John 11:32 we also read, “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” The one thing that she had chosen earlier, to spend time with the Lord, was characterized by devotion to Him and worship at His feet despite the death of her brother Lazarus. The third time we see Mary is in John 12:3. “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus‘ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” Mark 14:4 relates that some of those present asked “Why this waste of perfume?” To them it represented an extravagance. Yet to the Lord this very display of seeming extravagance to others was noted by Him as worthy of being remembered wherever the gospel was preached (Mark 14:9)
Throughout the centuries, many lives have been lived whose time with the Lord may have been thought to be extravagant by others. These include John Bunyan, John Brainerd, George Muller, A. W. Tozer, E. M. Bounds, and many others. Their passion was to be singleminded in their devotion to Christ. Their one thing may be characterized by Philippians 3:10. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” There will be a time in the future when we will all gather around the throne singing “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13) This will be our one thing throughout eternity, but our Lord asks us “What about today?” Are we able to say that He is the one thing that we seek after, that we press toward, or that we have chosen? If so, then we can have confidence in His promise to us in II Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”