This One Thing

"This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Thus spake the pattern saint of God, energized by the Holy Ghost that in him God's thoughts for His saints, throughout this present period, might be expressed; he outlines the true path and experience of the Christian upon earth. This ONE THING of which he writes should be the all-absorbing purpose of the CHRISTIAN MAN. It is God's pleasure for us; it should seize upon our souls, forcing into impotence, and out of our lives, every other object that might distract our thoughts from it.

There are not two kinds of Christian life, "the higher life" and the lower, for nothing could be higher than this, and anything lower is not the Christian life. We may feel and confess how little we have come under the power of that which can subdue everything in us to the pursuit of this one object, yet nothing short of this is full and true Christian life on earth. Nor may we plead that it is beyond us, for this was the life of a man of like passions with ourselves, who before Christ laid siege to and captured his soul was moved by as boundless an ambition as any living man today. But from the moment that the light above the brightness of the sun shone upon him, and he heard that incomparable voice saying "I am Jesus," one thing only controlled him, and that one thing was to reach the glory of God, where the excellency of Jesus his Lord was rightly appreciated. He had found Him to be infinitely brighter and better than the brightest and the best that the earth could offer, and he made the great renunciation and counted everything in which a mortal man could boast as dung for the excellent knowledge of Christ. Henceforward he wanted nothing else. Of him in this connection J. N. D. wrote: "In Christ, who had appeared to him on the way to Damascus, he had seen divine righteousness for man and divine glory in Man. He had seen a glorified Christ, who acknowledged the poor, feeble members of His assembly as part of Himself. He would have nothing else. The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord had eclipsed everything. The stars as well as the darkness of night disappear before the sun. The righteousness of the law, the righteousness of Paul, all that distinguished him among men, disappeared before the righteousness of God and the glory of Christ.

It was a thorough change in his whole moral being. His gain was now loss to him. Christ was become all. It was not evil which disappeared — everything that belonged to Paul as advantage to the flesh disappeared. It was another who was now precious to him. What a deep and radical change in the whole moral being of man when he ceases to be the centre of his own importance, and Another worthy of being so becomes the centre of his moral existence! — a divine Person, a Man who had glorified God, a Man in whom the glory of God shone out; in whom His righteousness was realized, His love, His tender mercy, perfectly revealed towards men and known by men."

How encouraging it is for us to know the Lord Jesus is unchanged in His glory since that day when He so fully captured the heart of Paul. The excellencies that so powerfully affected the Apostle shine undimmed in Him in spite of the lapse of centuries, and though we may not have attained to his knowledge of Christ, and may feel that our purpose of heart is very faltering when contrasted with his persistency, yet Christ is there, the prize for us on high, as worthy of our adoration. and devotion and service as ever He has been. We may walk by the same rule and be undivided in affection and purpose of heart even as Paul was.

We may be sure, however, that the devil will seek to thwart and hinder such a purpose, and if we are to be kept true to Christ, as the needle to the pole, we shall need careful, prayerful, watchful living — this will alone suffice.

We must beware of becoming self-important, esteeming ourselves better than others. This is always a serious check to any advance in the pursuit of this "one thing." What is the antidote and the unfailing preventative? "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." He is set before us as our pattern (chap. 2).

We also have to watch against settling down to easy self-gratification, minding earthly things, making our bellies our God, glorying in that which should be our shame. How may we be preserved from this deadly snare? Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour (chap 3). Heaven is our destiny, and pilgrim feet must not lag along the road to it; we must forget the things which are behind, reach forth to those things where Christ sits at God's right hand.

Another danger is in being too much engrossed with the ways and means of livelihood — food, clothing, shelter — of forgetting our high destiny and God's good pleasure for us, in the dreary drudge of "making a living." Let us ever remember that it is written, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (chap. 4). We have God for our need, therefore we are to "be careful for nothing; but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving," our requests are to be made known to God. Thus will the heart be free to pursue its God-given object undistractedly, having CHRIST FOR OUR PATTERN, HEAVEN FOR OUR DESTINY, GOD FOR ALL OUR NEED.