This is one of the most impactful spiritual lessons I ever learned. During my senior year of college, I searched the Bible for the phrase “one thing” because I wanted to know what the Bible counted most important. The five Bible verse results that came back have shaped my faith and this blog.

Photo Credit: Ryk Neethling
Photo Credit: Ryk Neethling

One Thing I Ask

Psalm 27:4
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

David was called “a man after God’s own heart.” Although David could have wanted many things (victory over his enemies, the crown on his head), we see him relentlessly return his focus to God. David sought God more than any earthly treasure.

One Thing You Lack

Mark 10:21
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

The rich young ruler claimed to be righteous, but he is unwilling to give Jesus the one thing He asked for: himself. The rich young ruler was willing to impress Jesus with his track record, but he was unwilling to surrender his status.

One Thing is Necessary

Luke 10:41-42
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

One day Martha had an unexpected houseguest—the Son of God. While she toils over a meal for Jesus and twelve other men, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Jesus responds to her complaint by saying, “You are anxious and troubled with much serving.” Martha was so focused on doing a good thing that she missed out on the best thing.

One Thing I Know

John 9:25
He answered, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

A man born blind is healed by Jesus. When interrogated by the religious leaders, he doesn’t present a well-prepared speech or get intimidated. He simply tells his story: He was blind, but now he sees. In response, Jesus declares the blind man seeing and the religious leaders blind.

One Thing I Do

Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The apostle Paul didn’t let the baggage of his past dictate his goal. He was focused. He knew his goal, and he wasn’t going to waver. This Pharisee of Pharisees, who had everything going for him, laid down his life to follow Jesus.

Five Verses, 1 Lesson

These five verses highlight five different people from five different walks of life, yet each point to the same lesson:

  • David: Knowing God is at the heart of prayer.
  • Rich young ruler: Knowing God is at the heart of surrender.
  • Martha: Knowing God is at the heart of service.
  • Blind man: Knowing God is at the heart of witness.
  • Paul: Knowing God is at the heart of ambition.

In summary, the lesson is this: Our lives are to be singularly focused on Jesus. 

Each story is about not being distracted—by aims or money or serving or fear or our past—but being completely centered on Jesus. When we strain to follow Him, our hearts are filled with joy and purpose and love. When we fix our eyes on Him, we receive the one thing our souls truly long for: Himself.


Which of these five characters do you relate to most? In what ways is God leading you to focus singularly on Him? Share a quick comment below.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for this aha! blog post, Camden. Succinct. Enlightening. Today, I am relating to David. In different seasons of life I’ve related to each of the other characters. When being refined by a trial, I related to the rich young ruler. When chasing a career at the world’s pace, I was Martha. When asked by a nonbeliever of my new found faith in Christ, I was like the blind man (by the grace of the Holy Spirit). God’s work in and through us changes given the individual circumstances He orchestrates in our lives. Isn’t that wonderful? I am continually awed by the realization He does this so uniquely for each Christ follower–continually focusing our eyes on Jesus.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Donna! I agree—there are definitely different seasons of life when we’ll feel like more one or the other. What I love most about these five verses is that they’re all different people at different times / places / circumstances in life, yet they all point to the same lesson: Knowing Jesus.

  2. Aha! It seems like so much but it’s so simple. As a “Martha”, I find myself (having had good intentions) tangled up, complicating situations, creating details and difficulties- then missing THAT moment. All along to have THAT moment the only necessary thing for me to do was choose to be still.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Haley! It’s strange how caught up we can get with the day-to-day routine. I’m glad we have the story of Martha to show us our own tendency!

  3. What a great project to have undertaken! And in so doing you have uncovered some of the simplest yet most profound truths we can discover – thanks!

  4. Camden – I’m a pastor in Indiana. I ran across this blog as reposted by Chris Goswami. It’s a great concept and I wanted to share with you that I’m using the basic concept and the scripture passages as a teaching series for our congregation this Spring. Thanks for sharing this. We begin this Sunday, April 28, 2019. Please know I plan to give you proper credit for the concept. And feel free to join us live on Facebook or at 9:00 and 10:30 Sundays. Thanks!

    1. That’s amazing! I’m so glad to hear this has been helpful for you, and I pray your local church will benefit greatly from it. Thanks for sharing!

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