In the raucous 90s movie, City Slickers, Curly, a rugged and inimitable trail boss gives a life lesson to Mitch, a greenhorn. “Do you know what the secret of life is?” He asks, holding up one finger.
“Your finger?” Mitch says smiling.
“One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else loses all meaning.” Of course, being an old ranch hand, Curly’s language is more salty.
“But what is that one thing?”
Many Christians struggle to discover that One Thing. They can spend their entire life in vain pursuit of one thing after another but fail to find the One Thing. The Apostle Paul, a man much less worried about comedic affects or entertaining others, tells us exactly what the One Thing is. In Philippians 3:13, he tells us,
…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
So, what is that One Thing? It is reaching the goal, or the journey to to reach the goal. In other words, the One Thing that most matters to Paul is to live everyday in total devotion to Jesus Christ. As Christians, this also should our One Thing, the one thing that matters most.
What exactly does Paul mean when he talks about reaching forward and pressing ahead? What exactly is complete or total devotion to Jesus Christ? Let’s look at the context of this scripture.
- Total devotion means giving up EVERYTHING. Paul considers his old life gone, forgotten, behind him (vs. 7-8). What he had once considered to be an essential part of his life – his name, reputation, standing in the community, wealth, education, religion- pales in comparison to his love for Jesus Christ. Though he lost it all, he doesn’t care. He is glad to have given it all up; he gladly traded it all for a deeper relationship with the Savior who sacrificed Himself to atone for Paul’s sins. Indeed, Paul has not just given up his old life, but has given up all this he is and ever will be…
- Giving up EVERYTHING for WHAT? Why make such a sacrifice? Why give up everything? Paul gave up everything for the “excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” his Lord. Once we get to know Jesus, through studying His Word… Once we get to know Jesus through fasting and prayer… Once we get to know Jesus by basking in His presence… Then we discover the excellence of His love. We give up all that is necessary to be able to spend just another minute at His feet, and living in His light.
- To know Him and the power of His resurrection. Which of us would not wish to intimately know God if meant that we could share in the power of His resurrection? The power of His resurrection is the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, but more than that, it is the power to be free of the sin that binds us in our present life.
- To share in the fellowship of His sufferings. The claim that Paul makes is that he wishes to share in Christ’s sufferings. This from a man who once dealt out sufferings similar to that which Christ endured. He knew the power of the Roman whip. He knew the slow tortuous death on the cross, yet he longed to suffer like Christ. He was told at the beginning of theHis ministry things he would suffer for Christ, but, still, he longed for more. He longed to submit to Christ, so that he may share in the loving light of Christ.
Paul longed to be confirmed to the death of Christ, if it meant sharing in the resurrection of Christ. This is the One Thing that mattered to him. And it should be the One Thing that matters to me and you.