“This One Thing I Do”

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing 1 do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto 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

IN THIS text, the apostle shows us that the Christian should have a definite, chief objective towards which he is to bend all his energies. That objective is to run the Christian racecourse of consecration with sincerity and whole-heartedness, so that the Lord will give him the prize of the high calling.

Jesus, in Matthew 6:33, tells us that we are to have this singleness of purpose: “Seek ye first [chiefly] the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Instead of making our primary or chief concern the seeking of what we should eat, drink, and wear, it should be that of making our “calling and election sure” by becoming copies of God’s dear Son.—II Pet. 1:10; Rom. 8:28,29

In the Morning Resolve, our attention is again called to this chief aim of the Christian. It reads: “Remembering the divine call, ‘Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice’, I resolve that by the Lord’s assisting grace I will today, as a saint of God, fulfill my vows, continuing the work of sacrificing the flesh and its interests, that I may attain unto the heavenly inheritance in joint-heirship with my Redeemer.”

If one is in good physical health, he will get far more enjoyment out of life than if he is weak and sickly. His food will be enjoyable and not distasteful. He will rejoice in the great outdoors—the flowers, and trees, and the beauties of field and sky. Likewise, if we are in good spiritual health, we will get keener enjoyment out of the study meetings, the various Bible helps, Manna texts and comments, as well as of our fellowship with the brethren. Jesus blazed the trail for us in this respect by seeking to do only those things that pleased his Heavenly Father and by traveling the road of sacrificial death as a sin-offering. In this connection, note the words of St. Paul, “In that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Rom. 6:10,11

The word ‘unto’ is translated ‘by’ in Dr. Wilson’s Diaglott. Therefore, the thought in the expression ‘unto sin’ is ‘by reason of’ or ‘on account of’ sin. Jesus was never alive unto sin in the sense of being a sinner, and, therefore, could not have died unto or because of sin. He laid down his humanity as a sin-offering for Adam and his entire progeny. (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:10) He also lived for God, and sought at all times to do the will of his Father. The apostle tells us that we should, likewise, reckon ourselves to be dead, laying down our little all on the altar of sacrifice. We do not add anything to the ransom merit of Jesus, but we do share in his sacrificing experiences so that thereby we may be fitted as new creatures in Christ Jesus to be part of the great High Priest who, in the Millennial Age, will minister the kingdom laws with kindness and mercy for the benefit of the willing and obedient of mankind.

Keep Under the Body

Notice also that Paul uses the word ‘reckon’. The flesh, the old will, is only reckonedly dead and seeks continually to reassert itself. Suppose a boy had gone swimming and upon seeing a log floating on top of the water should decide to play by keeping the log submerged under the water. When he would get one end down, the other end would come up. If he would straddle the log in the middle and try to get all of the log under water at one time, he would be likely to ‘turn turtle’ and find himself tipped into the water. The moment he would cease to put forth effort to submerge the log, it would come to the surface and float away.

In Galatians 5:7, Paul uses the expression, “Ye did run well,” and urges the brethren not to be driven back (Margin) in their zeal for the Lord. If we are to attain to a place in the kingdom, we will need, not only to have run well in the past, but to continue running well to the very finish of the racecourse. Our past reputation as good runners in the Christian racecourse does not justify slackening the race now that we are nearing the goal. Indeed, our zeal and fervor should be intensified as we realize that we are nearing the journey’s end.

But how often, after one has run well for awhile, the adversary seeks to tempt such an one to lay aside his zeal for the Lord and take a compromising course. Then come suggestions such as, “Look at all the fun you are missing,” “You have done your share,” or, “Is it not time for you to take it easy?” If these arguments are unavailing, another subtle suggestion may come, “Why bother about attending Bible study meetings? You can gain just as much by reading and studying at home!” This latter suggestion nullifies the Lord’s instructions “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” (Heb. 10:25) But to the Christian who is awake to his privileges and has learned to love the brethren warmly and deeply, such ideas have no appeal. He is continually seeking to overcome any obstacle which might arise to interfere with his regular attendance with Bible Study groups.

Support the Weak

Paul was not only a teacher who taught us to seek first the kingdom, but he set us a noble example. Notice his words to the elders of the church, dwelling at Ephesus: “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) The strong ones should always be ready to help the weak ones. They have learned that the words of Jesus are true, that those who have the spirit of love receive a great blessing when they seek to help the weak ones carry their burdens. How much more helpful are the lessons of a teacher like Paul who practiced what he preached.

In II Corinthians 5:20 we read, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” An ambassador is one who is an official representative of a government and as such is expected to further the interests of the country he represents. He is not to voice his own private opinions but he is obligated to carry out the policies and instructions of his government and to avoid doing or saying anything that would cast a harmful reflection upon his country.

What kind of ambassadors are we? Remember that our actions speak volumes and that we must be careful to honor the Lord not only with our lips but also with our deeds. When Jesus revealed himself to Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul said, “What wilt thou have me to do?” Our prayer each day to the Lord should be a request that he show us what is his will for us, not only in the big things, but also in the little things of life.—Acts 9:6

Reading God’s providences and responding to his leadings is like reading music. When first we start to learn the notes they seem difficult and involved. But as we progress in our study and see that the notes are connected one with another like the words in a sentence, and sentences in a paragraph, we not only are able to read the notes and the musical phrases faster, but our mistakes become less and less, and as a result our playing becomes smoother and we are able to put the proper expression into the music.

As we grow in maturity of Christian character, we also find it easier to read in the various circumstances of life and in the Lord’s Word just what his will is for us. When we strike a wrong note, the Lord reproves us, but as we grow in grace and seek more carefully to judge ourselves, our mistakes should be fewer. We should rejoice as we find it easier to discern what the Lord’s will is for us in each experience of life. We find that we can sing with more expression and with more appreciation the “new song.”—Rev. 14:3, Diaglott

When we came into the light of present truth and were begotten by the Holy Spirit, we were pleased to associate with others who “have obtained like precious faith with us.” (II Pet. 1:1) We should never lose our first love for the brethren. If we do, It would indicate that we were no longer seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In I John 4:12, the apostle tells us: “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

Love Covers Faults

This love for the brethren is not based on the premise that they are perfect. On the contrary, the longer we associate with them, the more we find that, according to the flesh, they are not free from faults and failings. There is a saying that love is blind. Strictly speaking, this is not so. A woman may know all the faults of her husband, she may know just what he is going to do next and she may be able to ‘read him like a book’, and yet she will love him very dearly, not because of his faults but in spite of them. Likewise, we learn to make a difference between the acts of the flesh of the brethren, and the intentions of their hearts. We see that they are trying to overcome the flesh, trust the Lord, and manifest his spirit; in their hearts they are loving and kind and Godlike. This is the way God, too, judges us—according to the heart. And so we learn to love our brethren not because of their faults, but in spite of them.

If we find that we are getting into a heart condition where the faults of the brethren are magnified and are irritating us, we should beware. We may be losing something of the Spirit of Christ. We should be careful of our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. Like driving a car on icy pavement, that is the time to be especially careful, to allow more time to stop, and to give the other fellow more room. So also, we should be careful not to let the little things in connection with the brethren bother us.

Character Development

Progress in character development is the result of definite and careful planning. Paul writes, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal. 6:7,8) When a businessman reviews the business transactions for the year, he is interested in finding out the profit for the year. The net profit is made up of many transactions, not necessarily every one yielding a profit by itself. Likewise, we may have an experience here and there where we fail to show a spiritual profit, but if from the failures we learn to be more watchful in the future, and more humble, it will give us final success, and enable us to win the prize of the high calling. If all our experiences taken together result in a character conformed to the image of God’s dear Son, then we can be assured that the little failures along the way have been overruled by the Lord, and, perhaps, utilized as a lesson to keep us humble and to make us more sympathetic in dealing with the faults of others.

If a man were to plant a garden in neat rows, put a fence around it, and pay no more attention to it for a long time, he would find the garden overrun with weeds. So, if we do not continually watch our thoughts and our motives, roots of bitterness will spring up. (Heb. 12:15) Just as the fence kept out the chickens but not the weeds, so if we want to keep our hearts free from weeds of selfishness, we will need to give all diligence and continue in watchfulness and prayer.

On the top of the mountains in the southwest, you will find here and there a lonesome, pine tree. These particular pine trees are very resilient; they can bend way over without snapping. This is because they have to stand up against such violent windstorms. As they grew and passed through these storms, they gradually developed more and more strength and resiliency. The Lord’s people must also develop the resiliency of meekness and cheerful endurance and fortitude. This can only come by meeting the storms of life in the spirit of full obedience to God and with the one purpose in mind—that of seeking first the kingdom of God even though it means opposition.

Of all those who have entered into the race for the prize of the high calling of God, only a few remain fully loyal until they have finished their course in death. Let us all say, like the Apostle Paul, “None of these move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.”—Acts 20:24

Dawn Bible Students Association
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