The Best Gift
An old proverb says, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” There’s wisdom in these few words. The idea is to focus on just one thing. If we keep our eyes on what is most important and pursue it with all our heart, we will have a better chance of success.
One of my favorite business books is Richard Koch’s, The 80/20 Principle. Also known as the Pareto principle, the 80/20 principle states that in many cases, approximately 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. Rather than chasing every rabbit that scurries across our path, the best rewards will come when we concentrate on the thing that really counts — that will truly make a difference.
So, what essential thing should be at the center of our focus as Christians? As a pastor and church leader, I’ve discovered the biggest driver of lasting success is a person’s character. Without a godly character, even the most talented people are often derailed somewhere along the line. And, earthly acclaim is no guarantee of eternal good.
The apostle Paul found his eternal focus later in life. “This one thing I do,” he said, “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” (Phil. 3:13–14).
If, like Paul, we make this “high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” this focus on developing a godly character, our priority, where do we begin in order to see our desired results? How do we become like Jesus?
One of the first Scripture texts I memorized as a new Christian was Matt. 6:33, which invited me to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness … .” Sure, there were a lot of good things I could do, but my talents and my efforts could never be the source of godly character. To avoid making character-building into a mere human checklist, a legalistic dead end, Jesus encourages us all to look first to Him.
Applying the 80/20 principle, what “one thing” will create the most results in developing His godly character? The answer is a simple truth: By beholding Jesus, we are changed.
The counsel of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha is instructive. When Martha complained about Mary’s lack of help, Jesus surprises us in His answer recorded in Luke 10: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Jesus did not say that serving others is bad. But there was just “one thing” that was necessary, and Mary had chosen it. Mary was focused first on seeking for and understanding God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, she was being transformed into His image — receiving His character. She said no to some good things to pursue the “one thing” that was best — Jesus.
Jesus was the best thing for Mary and Martha, and He’s the best thing for you and me. The best gift you could give to your family and yourself this holiday season is time with Jesus. He will grant you more patience, kindness and love to share with those you love the most. You will discover true success in its rightful place. But most of all, Jesus will become your best friend.