This One Thing

One thing!

A mountain stream runs powerfully toward its one goal by moving within narrower banks. Later, the river may flatten out within its broad banks, meander through meadows and hills, and provide a lovely place to float leisurely. However, let’s never forget that most beautiful rivers begin in the headwaters with powerful, focused streams.

Jesus, the greatest leader ever, knew the power of the “one thing.” The rich young ruler came to Jesus, not fully satisfied with his life despite his spotless religious upbringing and his ability to indulge in whatever he desired. “One thing you lack.” I love how direct Jesus is. May He raise of followers like Himself who love others enough to pass on “honest bombs.”

“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.” (Mark 10:21).

Were you struck, as I am, by the contrast between “one thing” and the five commands in the verse?


Jesus knows that each and every person has been designed for significance (read Genesis 1:26-28). We are image-bearers of the Father, Son and Spirit. Because God fashioned us for significance and satisfaction, our lives have a powerful gravitational pull towards true fulfillment. Just like with a river, we will move steadily towards our destiny…unless barriers interfere.

Our daily life-focus is centers on our Team-of-Three, Father, Son and Spirit, their presence in our lives and our heritage sufficient for today and all eternity. But what about when we get diverted from what is crucial? What happens when our hearts drift from good soil to thorny soil and focus on “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19; see also my blog: “Mark’s Startling Call to Mature & Minister”)? Jesus challenges us to return to our “this one thing.”

For the rich young ruler, his wealth and self-absorbed life stood as a barrier to the flow of God’s presence and provision. First, Jesus called him to take action now (“go”), sell all and focus on the needs of others (“the poor”). To clarify, riches are not wrong…unless they become an idol, something that stands above God and His call on our lives. God designed us to serve others and we find fullness of satisfaction only as we serve others without expecting a return.

“Come, follow me” is what Jesus is after with our lives, “”this one thing,” big-picture. 

In relationship with Him, with His life as Model Man our compass, He changes us in our doing. “This one thing!” Yet we often must remove a barrier before we can see with noonday clarity. For the rich young ruler,  his wealth and self-focus separated him from God’s best for him. What is it for you? For me?

Paul also calls us to this “one thing” with a two-fold response: (1) refusing to live in the past (after we capture life’s lessons) and straining our efforts toward “this one thing.”

“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…” (Philippians 3:13-14).

How can we begin to walk in partnership with Jesus Christ each day? How can we be more open to the daily “divine encounters” He has prepared for us (for instance, see Ephesians 2:10)? Here are a few practical points I reminded myself of just today .

  1. Embrace the mystery. How our Team-of-Three uniquely communicates with us and prepares openings for us each day touches on mystery. What else would we expect, though, when created beings relate with our Creator?

  2. Know what you want. What is your “this one thing” today or in this season? In some way this will mean serving others to release life in them, whether at work or in the family or in other relationships. Our God is a relational God at His core and fashioned us in this image.

  3. Review your day before going to sleep in light of your “ this one thing.” God designed us so our minds work on whatever we focus on before we sleep at night (Psalm 16:7-8). Let God’s creation design work for us by carefully focusing on God’s best for us.

  4.  Open yourself to receive unfolding wisdom during the day. Wisdom comes from all sources, even difficult circumstance or ornery people since God also speaks through creation itself (Psalm 19:1-4).

  5. Relax & risk! Our heavenly Father so delights in us! When barriers to His presence are removed, He shows us what He is doing so we can participate with Him as His hands & feet, His heart and touch to His world (John 5:17 + 19). And partnering with the relational, Triune God will feel like risk!

What is your “this one thing” for today?