Most people know that in order to excel at anything in life you must be devoted; you have to sacrifice time, expend energy, and give yourself over to your goals in order to achieve them. Paul the Apostle told us in Philippians that this attitude was the key to his great success as a disciple of Christ.

Philippians 3:7-14 says:
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: 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.”

I. “This One Thing I Do”

A. Less is more when we are focused on achieving mastery in any area of our lives.

1. The Bible teaches that fools have no focus but their eyes are scattered across the face of the earth (Proverbs 17:24).

B. We see from this passage in Philippians that Paul centered his life on knowing Christ Jesus as his Lord. We all need a center that we anchor our lives and focus on, something by which we judge all other things before we commit to doing anything.

C. Knowing Christ was the standard he measured everything against that determined what he would do with his time. He actually counted everything else as “dung” compared to his hunger to know Christ! No matter what he did, he did for the Lord and with His presence.

D. Whenever a person says yes to something, they are also saying no to something else.  For example, when someone gets married, they are saying yes to their new spouse but also saying no to living a single, self-centered life, which means giving up some friends, activities, etc. But if you love the person you married, then you willingly make that exchange and give up things you were formerly devoted to.

E. This is what Jesus meant in Luke 14:28 when He told people who wanted to follow Him to “count the cost.” There is always a cost in taking on a commitment. The cost of time spent with the Master means time not spent doing other things or being with other people.

F. When we become a disciple of Christ it implies we are living a life centered on Christ. You cannot have two centers; either you will love the one and hate the other or hate the one and love the other. You cannot serve two masters!

G. The three things Paul did to stay focused on Christ:

1. He lost all things. He did not really give up everything; he was still prosperous, had friends, had food, possessions, his own business, etc. What he really means is that in his heart and mind he surrendered all that he was and all that he had to Christ as his Lord.

2. He forgot those things that were behind. We must forget our failures lest they condemn us and we lose our faith and motivation. We also have to forget our successes lest we think we have arrived and lose our hunger to know and please God.

3. He pressed toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Press means to run after, follow after, to pursue, to seek after eagerly; to earnestly endeavor to acquire the end in mind. When we press we are pushing through, past resistance and obstacles. It is not always easy and implies difficulty and the need for patience and perseverance.

Joseph Mattera