The “One Thing” Jesus Emphasized

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. – Mark 10:21


My oldest son and I were talking late one night last week about the pattern into which his life has fallen this year, with its narrow focus on school, work, church, and family. As a senior in high school, he’s had to establish priorities and edit activities out of his life that waste time or detract from the tasks he must accomplish.

He’s learning that he can’t do everything, and expect to do everything well.

But that realization isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s good! He’s discovering what God has equipped him to do best, and how those talents will shape his future.

In short, he’s learning to “keep the main thing, the main thing” (Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People).


Have you considered that Jesus emphasized a “main thing” as well?

In the gospels, he actually used the phrase “one thing” on at least two occasions, when He spoke to a rich, young ruler, and to a frustrated hostess named Martha.

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. – Luke 10:42

At first glance, the rich, young ruler’s one thing appears to be different from Martha’s. To the young man, Jesus was teaching a lesson about sacrificing one’s wealth and not relying on one’s own righteousness. To the busy hostess, Jesus was teaching a lesson about setting aside one’s tasks – even worthy tasks – to spend time with Him.

But of course, the lesson each of them needed to learn was the same: they needed to be willing to give up whatever came between them and the Savior – just as we all do.

That lesson is the “one thing.”

Based on this teaching from Jesus, we must take an honest look into our hearts and lives and admit what we might be holding back from God. Like the young ruler’s wealth or Martha’s to-do list, that thing may not be a sin in itself, but it can become sin if it keeps us from an unfettered relationship with God, and from His perfect will for our lives.

For me, a Martha to the max, that sin is usually busyness.

I am reminded that Jesus felt the need to remind his hard-working disciples, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).


Would Jesus say to you, “One thing thou lackest”? What could come between you and Him?

13 thoughts on “The “One Thing” Jesus Emphasized”

  1. I can hear Him saying, “Time out, son. Stop worrying about what has to be done, and work harder on simply being in My presence. Get better at that, relax and allow Me to flow through you. With My help, the to-do list will get done; you’ll see.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good point. It’s a bit pointless even to do right if we don’t consult the Lord about it first. I think that’s why I have been willing to take my time with involvement in our new church. I don’t want to jump in for many reasons, but mainly because I don’t feel as though the Lord has laid anything (other than music!) on my heart yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I especially loved this part-“But of course, the lesson each of them needed to learn was the same: they needed to be willing to give up whatever came between them and the Savior – just as we all do.” God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

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