Life presents us an opportunity to pursue many things; but what is that one overarching thing that defines all that we pursue?
This attitude, of pursuing one thing over others, is explicit in the lives of prominent figures in the Bible. They had one chief and principal thing that they pursued wholeheartedly. This helped focus their attention, and energies to a productive end. Briefly, let’s look at biblical examples in which we see prominent figures who had singular focus/desire in life and ministry.
- Joshua: 15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
In a generation that was experiencing a growing apostasy, Joshua desired to serve the Lord despite the strong opposition around him.
2. David: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).
David, desired, above all, to seek the Lord…and to experience the beauty and the tender care under God’s wings. His desire was a life-long desire; he will follow it through till the end of his life. Also, he commmitedly seeks what he has asked of the Lord. Did he fulfill this desire at the end of his life? A resounding yes, Acts 13:36 records that after David had served God’s purpose in his generation he rested with his forefathers.
3. Solomon: (when given the opportunity by God to ask whatever thing he needed): “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).
This man asked God to give him wisdom (a wise and discerning heart to be able to administer justice). In response, God gave him wisdom but also in addition gave him all the other things he did not ask for like wealth, and long life. Solomon’s priorities at least at this early stage of his life were focused. He asked God for ONE thing.
4. Agur son of Jakeh: 7 “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God (Prov. 30:7-9).
This little known man of the Bible asked of God two things. His focused desires reveal that he longed for contentment, truthfulness, and honoring of God.
5. Jesus: 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (John 4:34).
Our Lord, talked of accomplishing the will of God as his “food” (a daily necessity)
Also, Jesus instructed, 33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33-34).
We know Jesus accomplished his singular focus, when at the cross he said, “it is finished”.
6. The merchant in the parable of Jesus: 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46).
Why this the merchant in the parable sell EVERYTHING just to buy ONE thing? It is because the ONE thing he had found was of GREATER value than EVERYTHING he had.
7. Martha (the one thing that is needed): 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
One thing is needed, and that is what Martha chose; something that cannot be taken away from her! For Martha, it was to be with Jesus, to seat under the counsel of Jesus.
8. Paul: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10-11).
Paul’s desired to “know Christ”; to know how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Paul achieved his purpose because at the end of his life he was able to confidently declare, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2 Tim 4:7).
These desires consumed the lives of these key characters in the Bible. Notably, they desired what ultimately brings true joy and contentment. These men desired what counts eternally. Why is it important to have a singular desire/focus: we end up seeking what we desire, “one thing I have desired; that I will seek after”; singular focus in life leads to simplification of life; it focuses our energies and pursuits; when we have our desires defined it is easy to turn them into prayers. Life is a process of simplification…