The Bible says, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended (‘that for which I am apprehended in Christ Jesus’ verse 12): but this one thing I 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).
The apostle Paul was a very busy man. He was busy going from town to town preaching the Gospel and establishing churches. He made and sold tents to provide for himself and his companions. He spent time writing or dictating letters to be written to the churches. He spent time in jail. He spent time as a prisoner of Rome in a ship on the seas.
All the while that Paul was setting and reaching goals in his public ministry he was also setting and reaching his personal goals.
Paul was a success in his public ministry and the church today is the benefactor of that success. Paul was also a success in reaching his personal goals and the church is the benefactor of that as well.
Paul’s public ministry impacted untold numbers of people and changed them forever. Paul experienced success in his public ministry because he experienced success in his personal life. Paul’s spiritual success in his personal life was the impetus for his public ministry.
As Paul was growing in his relationship with Christ and attaining greater knowledge of Him and experiencing His grace and power to live a righteous life, Paul sought to teach and share with others what he learned that they to might experience the same thing. By Paul personally focusing solely on Jesus Christ and making His will and work his priority he experienced spiritual development that others less concentrated on Jesus Christ did.
Paul’s personal development and spiritual attainment were key to his successful public ministry. Paul said, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
When the Christian becomes a person of “one thing” like Paul was, then, like him they will be greatly used by God. When the Christian is single-minded and focused and concentrating on “one thing” as described in our text, all the energy, power, and force of their being that is directed toward accomplishing God’s will is then enhanced by the grace of God, and they’re able to make a big difference in the lives of people.
Because many ministers of the Gospel put their priority on their public service instead of on their relationship with God, they’re ineffective in their public ministry.
Because Paul kept his priorities right and stayed focused on “one thing,” his personal relationship with God and his spiritual development, he was a success in his public ministry and was able to say in the end, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
James H. Cagle lives in Ray City, Ga., and is a former Hamilton County resident.