My parents must have said, “You need to understand one thing, young man!” a million times. Of course, they were trying to explain an important, needed lesson by adding extra emphasis by that phrase, “one thing.”
Interestingly, the phrase, “one thing” is used in the New Testament eleven times. Let’s examine two.
The first is Mark 10:17. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “One thing you lack.” Jesus asked him first, “You know the commandments?” The young man gave Jesus a very interesting answer. He said, “These have I kept from my youth up.” Had he? Had he kept them all?
Jesus told him he must sell all of his possessions, deny himself, and follow him. The Bible tells us the young man was unwilling to do this. Both Mark 10 and Luke 18 tell us why. “He had great possessions.”
For this young man, the price of eternal life was too high.
Now, that sounds like a nonsensical statement, doesn’t it? Jesus once asked, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:37). Here was this man’s answer. His possessions were more important to him than his immortal soul.
Are there people alive today who have the same problem? Do they put money or possessions before the Lord? But what about the “greatest commandment?” Jesus said the greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” (Matthew 22:37 KJV).
Had this young man kept all of the commandments?
The second instance is very similar to it and is in Luke 10:38-42. I teach this passage wherever I go, which is probably the reason why I have preached at several churches.
Jesus was at the house of Lazarus. Mary and Martha also lived there. Martha, the scripture tells us, “was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me,” (Luke 10:40 NASB). She was distracted, which means she was not focusing on what was important.
Imagine this! This person is telling God the Son what to do! Martha and Peter shared this undesirable distinction.
Jesus, very sweetly and very directly, told Martha that her sister had chosen the more important or the “good path.” It was a part Martha should have chosen, too.
Our world is not much different than theirs. We sometimes chose the wrong way. Sometimes we get our priorities mixed up. Jesus, in these scriptures, tells us the ONE THING is truly important: God and his word are!