One Thing I Do
Bible Reading: Philippians 3:4-11
Philippians 3:10, “…that I may know him.”
Philippians 3:13, “But one thing I do.”
There is a famous scene in the movie “City Slickers” in which Jack Palance’s character Curly, the life-hardened trail boss, turns to Mitch (Billy Crystal) and asks the question: “Do you know what the secret of life is?” He then holds up his index finger and says: “It’s just one thing”. Mitch responds by asking “What’s the one thing?” Curly answers with: “That’s what you have to figure out.” From that moment on, the band of dude-ranch city-slickers sets out to discover what “The One Thing” is. They know it must be important, yet have no idea of what it could be. In our passage, the Apostle Paul speaks of the one thing, the supreme desire, which governed his life and his ministry— “knowing Jesus.”
Charles Spurgeon wrote a wonderful analogy describing what is at the heart of such thinking: “’That I may know Him.’ Are you astonished that a saved man should have such a desire as this? A moment’s reflection will remove your astonishment. Imagine for a moment that you are living in the age of the Roman emperors. You have been captured by Roman soldiers and dragged from your native country; you have been sold as a slave, stripped, whipped, branded, imprisoned, and treated with shameful cruelty. At last, you are appointed to die in the amphitheater, to make holiday for a tyrant. The populace assemble with delight. There they are, tens of thousands of them, gazing down from the living sides of the capacious Colosseum. You stand alone, and naked, armed only with a single dagger-a poor defense against gigantic beasts. A ponderous door is drawn up by machinery, from which rushes the monarch of the forest–a huge lion; you must slay him or be torn to pieces. You are absolutely certain the conflict is too stern for you, and the sure result must and will be those terrible teeth will grind your bones and drip with your blood. You tremble; your joints are loosed; you are paralyzed with fear, like the timid deer when the lion has dashed it to the ground. Yet what is this? O wonder of mercy! — a deliverer appears. A great unknown leaps from among the gazing multitude and confronts the savage monster. He quails not at the roaring of the devourer, but dashes upon him with terrible fury, til, like a whipped cur, the lion slinks towards his den, dragging himself along in pain and fear. The hero lifts you up, smiles into your bloodless face, whispers comfort in your ear and bids you be of good courage, for you are free. Do you not think that there would arise at once in your heart a desire to know your deliverer?
As the guards conduct you into the open street,and you breathe the cool, fresh air, would not the first question be, ‘Who was my deliverer, that I may fall at his feet and bless him?’ You are not, however, informed, instead you are gently led away to a noble mansion house, where your many wounds are washed and healed with a salve of rarest power. You are clothed in sumptuous apparel; you are made to sit down at a feast; you eat and are satisfied; you rest upon the softest down. The next morning you are attended by servants who guard you from evil and minister to your good. Day after day, week after week, your wants are supplied. You live like a courtier. There is nothing you can ask which you do not receive. I am sure your curiosity would grow more and more intense til it would ripen into an insatiable craving. You would scarcely neglect an opportunity of asking the servants, ‘Tell me, who does all this, who is my noble benefactor, for I must know him?’ ‘Well, but’ they would say, ‘is it not enough for you that you are delivered from the lion?’ ‘Nay,’ say you, ‘it is for that very reason I want to know him.’ ‘Your wants are richly supplied – why are you vexed by curiosity as to the hand which reaches you the boon? If your garment is worn out, there is another. Long before hunger oppresses you, the table is well loaded. What more do you want?’ But your reply is, ‘It is because I have no wants, that, therefore, my soul longs and yearns even to hungering and to thirsting, that I may know my generous loving friend.’
Suppose as you wake up one morning, you find lying up on your pillow a precious love-token from your unknown friend, a ring sparkling with jewels and engraved with a tender inscription, a bouquet of flowers bound about with a love-motto! Your curiosity now knows no bounds. But you are informed this wondrous being has not only done for you what you have seen, but a thousand deeds of love which you did not see, which were higher and greater still, as proofs of his affection. You are told he was wounded, and imprisoned and scourged for your sake, for he had a love for you so great, death itself could not overcome it: you are informed he is every moment occupied by your interests, because he has sworn by himself where he is there you shall be; his honors you shall share and of his happiness you shall he the crown. Why, I think you would say, ‘Tell me, men and women, any of you who know him, tell me who he is and what he is;’ and if they said, ‘But it is enough for you to know that he loves you, and to have daily proofs of his goodness,’ you would say, ‘No, these love-tokens increase my thirst. If you see him, tell him I am sick of love. The flagons which he scuds me and the love-tokens which he gives me, they stay with me for a while with the assurance of his affection, yet they only impel me onward with the more unconquerable desire that I may know him. I must know him; I cannot live without knowing him. His goodness makes me thirst, and pant, and faint, and even die, that I may know him.”
And so we are so incredibly loved by Jesus (Ephesians 3:18-19) and in response there is no better “one thing” to lay hold of than the desire to know Him better (2 Peter 3:18). It is the rational and suitable response to so great a love (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:15). What’s your “one thing?”
JESUS, PRICELESS TREASURE
Jesus, priceless treasure,
source of purest pleasure,
truest friend to me,
long my heart hath panted,
till it well-nigh fainted,
thirsting after thee.
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb,
I will suffer naught to hide thee,
ask for naught beside thee.
In thine arms I rest me;
foes who would molest me
cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms our fear;
sin and hell in conflict fell
with their heaviest storms assail us;
Jesus will not fail us.
Hence, all thoughts of sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
though the storms may gather,
still have peace within;
yea, whate’er we here must bear,
still in thee lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!