West London Alliance Church

One Thing

On October 27 of this year I preached on the following passage from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 10:38-42 ESV 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

My final words in that sermon were meant to exhort both believers and unbelievers to recognize and respond to the very truth that Jesus communicated to Martha: there is one thing that matters. That “one thing” is Jesus; all he is and all he would do to save his people and reconcile them to the Father.

As is often the case (either before or after a sermon is prepared or delivered), I came across a passage in unrelated reading that directly pertained to said sermon. Since I am currently immersed in reading through the Works of John Newton, it was in one of his letters to his wife that I encountered this interesting paragraph:

Many things offer to amuse us: some deserve and require a degree of our attention; but one thing is especially needful. What a mercy is it that this one thing, which mountains of gold and silver cannot purchase, is to be had without money and without price! May the Lord engrave it deeply on your heart and mine! His name is Love; his Word is Power. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, so sure is his promise, that He will never cast out those who come unto him. If we have a desire for his blessings, He first gave it them to us, and therefore will not disappoint us. I long to see and hear you rejoicing in his salvation. He only knows the many prayers I have offered for you; I trust not in vain. I cannot doubt but the one thing needful is your chief desire. Everything else will shortly fail us; but the blessings of the Gospel will last through life, through death, and to eternity.

Newton is exhorting his wife about this same “one thing that matters." Newton refers to it in the last line of this excerpt: “but the blessings of the Gospel” is the one thing that matters. That is, a relationship with Jesus in which his work on the cross has been applied to one’s life is all that matters. All the blessings of the Gospel come through Jesus. He, and his work, are the one thing.

Newton notes a few things in regards to this. There is one thing that matters, but there are many things which distract us either through amusement or because they deserve our attention. We need to mindful of this so we do not forget the one thing.

Newton directs his wife’s eyes to the promises of God. They are our assurance. We can be doubly confident in them because we have already experienced them in our salvation. How much more will those promises continue to work their way in and through our lives. Let's particularly trust God's promises in regards to Jesus and our salvation in him persevering.

Finally, Newton notes that eventually there will only be one thing left because everything else will eventually fail. We have a great hope for the future because of the one thing that matters. So, let's be hopeful.

Be encouraged this morning to pursue that one thing—Jesus Christ and him crucified, dead, and risen—all the days of your life.

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