One Thing I Do
There is a great deal of waste in all lines of life, because people scatter their energies over too wide a field. Instead of doing one thing well, they do a dozen things indifferently. No one is great enough to do everything. In the arts and professions, men are more and more becoming specialists. Even ordinary ability would be sure of success, if it found its true place, and then devoted itself wholly to its work. Though a man may fail time and again, if he does not give up in discouragement, in most cases he will at last succeed.
There is a remarkable direction in our Lord’s instruction when He sent out the seventy disciples. Among other things, He told them to greet no one along the way. The salutations of their culture were highly regarded and took much time, but the mission on which His messengers were sent was urgent and required haste. Not a moment must be lost on the way. When a disciple begged to be allowed to bury his father before responding to the call of the Kingdom, the Master refused. The dead could bury their own dead, and he must hasten to carry the Gospel message (Luke 9:59-60).
If we would focus all our energies in one purpose, all our work would become better. Let us wholeheartedly do our best, even in the most menial of our daily tasks. If we are writing only a postcard to a friend, let us do it as carefully as when we are writing a letter of greatest importance. If we are showing a simple kindness to anyone, let us give them our full attention.
There are authors who have written one or two books of great interest and value and then have grown indifferent, doing nothing more worthwhile. They were too well satisfied with their early success or a little praise turned their heads, and they never did their best again. We should not expect our every effort to be considered a success by others, but neither should we be satisfied with not doing what we could (Matthew 25:14-30).
“If at first you do succeed,
Life is more than just one deed;
Never stop with what you’ve done,
More remains than you have won,
Full content’s vouchsafed to none;
“If at first you do succeed,
For future harvests sow the seed,
Rise with sacred discontent,
Realize that life is lent
On highest searches to be spent:
[C. A. S. Dwight]
An old painter, after standing long in silent meditation before his canvas, with hands crossed meekly on his breast and his head bent reverently, said, “May God forgive me that I did not do it better.” There are many of us who ought to have the same experience of penitence, as we contemplate the things we have done. We should implore forgiveness for doing our work so poorly, wherever we are not doing our best. If we will learn to put all the energy of our souls into all we do, we will do commendable work worthy of our Savior.
In our Christian life, we should seek only one thing—to attain the highest reaches in character and service. If an absorbing passion for Christ rules us, it will bring all our life into harmony with itself.
When Christ is taken into the chief place in the life, everything which is not in harmony with His peerless beauty must go out, and only the things that are in keeping with the mind and spirit of Christ can have a place in the life.
When Christ really becomes the one thing of our lives, there is less and less of living for self, and more and more of consecration to the service of love. Some people suppose that holiness separates a man from his fellows, that as he becomes more God-focused he grows out of touch with people, less interested in their human affairs, less sympathetic, less accessible, and less helpful. But it is not the religion of Christ which produces such results. Never did any other man get so near to people as Christ Himself did. He lived among them; they loved Him and trusted Him, and they told Him everything. When Christ truly enters a man, one of the unmistakable marks of His indwelling is the new love which begins to appear in the man’s life. This true religion made Paul a friend of man, eager to help everyone he met. When Christ really gets possession of a heart, the sweet flowers of love begin to grow in the life. If we are not becoming more patient, more joyful, more charitable, more kindly, more thoughtful, if there is not in us an increasing desire to help others, to do them good, we need to pray for more of the love of God in our hearts. We may tell people that Christ is still in this world, coming close to them in their needs, but He is here only as He lives in us. He has no other present incarnation but in the lives of His friends. He helps the suffering, the toiling folk, the weary hearted, the weak, the sorrowing—but only through us. We are most like Christ when we are nearest to the hearts of men, when our sympathies are widest, when we are the gentlest, when our hands are readiest to minister.
If in our hearts the great master purpose is to live for Christ only, we will grow continually away from all that is worldly and unworthy, toward things which are spiritual and Divine. Paul describes himself as “forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before.” (Philippians 3:13)ASV
The life which is under the full dominance and sway of Christ, is ever unfolding new beauty, and growing into holier, sweeter, tenderer, diviner character and into larger, fuller usefulness. For while the beauty of Christ becomes more and more manifest in the personal life, the influence of Christ is manifested more and more distinctly in the impression made on the world. If our citizenship is truly in heaven, we will carry the atmosphere of heaven with us wherever we go, and heavenly flowers and fruits will grow about us which but for us would not have been there. There is no more infallible test of the reality and the power of our spiritual life than in the measure of heaven we bring down into this world’s life.
“Is the world better or worse where I tread?
What have I done in the years that are dead?
What have I left on the way as I passed—
Foibles to perish, or blessings to last?
Whose is the love-voice I hear as I go?
Whom do I follow through weal and through woe?
Of what is my sword-blade—of gold or of dross?
What is my standard—the world or the cross?
How do I choose when the heart’s sacred cry
Crosses the will of my Christ?—bid it die?
What do I do when the world’s flowers are sweet—
Stop in my race for the flowers at my feet?
Where are my scars from—siege upon siege,
Loyally fought in the cause of my liege?
What is my watchword, my passport, to show
The cause I contend for, the way that I go?
Are my steps onward, forever ahead,
Never turned back to some hope sin has fed?
Am I a soldier, and what is my aim?
Have I left in my footprints the light of Christ’s name?”2
[Georgiana Klingle Holmes]