DEVOTION TO CHRIST
One thing is needful
Devotion to Christ is the outmoded relic of yesteryear’s religion. We are content with this situation. Like the five thousand of old, if we may merely eat of His loaves, we are content. Indeed, receiving from His hand is our chief delight, but He is not.
Our belly has become our god. Success, prosperity, and fulfillment are the ignoble objects of our waning devotion. We will sacrifice, in measure, to obtain His benefits, using Christ Himself as the means to our own selfish ends. It is imagined that He will help us perform our will; that He will hasten to fulfill our decrees. And when He has done His part, we toss Him aside, forgotten, as we bask in what we have used Him to obtain.
Formerly the church had sung, “Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest; now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.” Now it chants, “Abraham’s blessings are mine.” We are no different than the church of Laodicea who thought themselves to be rich, increased in goods, with need of nothing. It sickens Christ still.
We struggle in order to gain for self. Answers are demanded while wisdom is despised. Solutions are eagerly sought but the Savior is not. Provision is pursued with no thought for treasure in heaven. And if God can assist us in our quest, we are content to use Him to get what we want. But the great men of both covenants were not so engaged.
Moses said to the Lord: Let me know Your ways that I may know You -Ex.33:13. Paul exclaimed: That I may know Him -Phil.3:10. In fact, this is what eternal life is made of. It is the Lord Jesus Himself who said so. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent–Jn.17:3. We gauge eternal life by our confession, He, by our communion. We are unlike our God. We neither know Him nor are particularly concerned to do so. Many other things occupy us.
A distraction is that which interferes with our concentration. Concentration is focused thought and attention. When distracted, the object of our devotion is set aside for that which is of lesser significance. Yet we are willing to entertain the interruptions that so readily clamor for our recognition. A distraction may not be positively evil; it may in fact be good. Serving the Lord is nothing to be shunned. But Martha was distracted with much service -Lk.10:40.
Service to the Lord became an encumbrance. It diverted her heart from its true and worthy focus. Doing something for God replaced communion with Him. Martha was willing to tolerate distraction, Mary was not. Martha spoke, Mary listened.
The Marthas of the world wish their voice to prevail. They will presume to command the Lord and expect Him to comply. She came up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” -Lk.10:40.
Martha imagines that her Lord is just like she is, but He is not. He is unknown by her. His heart remained veiled to her hurried footstep. Worried and bothered about so many things -Lk.10:41 was the true assessment of her service. Irritated insistence upon her own way testified to her lack of devotion to the Lord Jesus.
The coming day of Judgment will reveal many things done poorly. For some, it will show a few things done well. Fewer still will have a testimony of having done the one necessary thing in all of life. One thing is necessary -Lk.10:42. Here is a definitive statement of what is essential. This must be done; all else is optional and, at best, secondary.
We do not live this way. Devotion to Christ is not the compelling passion of our souls, yet it is the only truly necessary thing. Nothing else truly matters. But we have not opted for this. We have chosen the foolish part which shall be taken away from us. Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her -Lk.10:42.
It will abide with her throughout everlasting day. She will carry this into eternity. Devotion to Christ is the only portion that a mortal soul will not have taken from him when he leaves this earth. It is eternal life. Knowing the only true God is necessary; nothing else in all of life falls into this category.
The categories are but two; necessary and unnecessary. Devotion to the Lord Jesus is all one will find in the first category. Everything else in life will be found in the second.
This is a shattering reality to any honest heart. To this busy and superficial generation, it will only significantly trouble them when standing naked before the God they have not known. Devotion to the Lord Jesus cannot begin then. Eternal life, knowing God, can only have its origin here on earth. It is the exclusively necessary thing now in this life.
This is not religious fiction. Christ Jesus who spoke it knows whereof He speaks. The final verdict on all of life’s activities is that one thing has been necessary all along. You have been told. The Lord Jesus has said it Himself. Search through the vast array of activities, distractions, and delusions that comprise your life. What have you found there that qualifies as necessary?
All is vanity. If nothing essential and hence truly worthwhile is discovered, all is loss. The tragedy of an irrelevant and wasted existence will overwhelm you in a single horrifying instant. In a blinding flash of clarity you will realize that one thing has been necessary all along. But retrospect will not save us. Devotion to the Lord Jesus is a matter for the moment, and every moment thereafter, here upon earth.
Friend, you are worried and bothered about many things. They will be taken from you. They have no lasting value. They can neither rescue you at the Judgment nor satisfy you in the present. One thing is necessary.
Disturbed as we may be by this, few of us will do anything about it. We may guiltily redouble our efforts to attend church, but we will not become devoted to Christ Himself. We may vow to pray more often, but this will soon fall by the wayside. We remain undevoted to the Lord Jesus.
There are two main reasons for this. First, we do not believe that He is worthy. Secondly, we do not believe that we are as evil as we are. These are the roots of the matter.
The Lord Jesus sees us; He is watching. He knows not only what we do but why we do it. He gazes into our very hearts. He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing -Mk.12: 41. All is open and laid bare before His all-searching eye. He saw their acts of devotion; He also saw what no one else did, He saw who was truly devoted.
Many rich people were putting in large sums…out of their abundance…A poor widow…put in all she owned, all her living -Mk.12:41-44. He knew the coins of each. He knew what remained in the purse, and what didn’t. The rich reserved portions for self, the widow abandoned all for the Lord.
How much is He worth? This is the fundamental question when assessing devotion.
Of what value is the Lord Jesus to us? The worthiness of the object dictates the terms of the investment. And money is surely not the point of the discussion, for the Lord Jesus said: This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury -Mk.12:43.
No calculator can quantify the devotion of a heart that is wholly abandoned unto Him. Nor can one count up the inestimable value of Christ Jesus the Lord, precious in the sight of God -I Pet.2:4. Grasping the immeasurable greatness of the Lord Jesus Christ will determine the greatness of our devotion. Without this, even thirty shekels of silver can be imagined to be a magnificent price at which I was valued by them -Zech.11:13.
The rich in the Temple fared better than this in their own estimation. Even so, combined, theirs could not equal two mites. To the widow, the Lord was worth all. Her life was of no account in her mind. That she would entrust to Him who was worth all. He would attend to all her needs.
This is the secret and the mystery of devotion. The Lord is worth all. Nothing is to be withheld; nothing remains clutched to the bosom of self. Who is the Lord Jesus Christ to you? Of what value is He? Is He worthy of a total and complete devotion in an abandonment of self?
You answer, “Yes”? Have you told Him so? Have you brought your two mites? Has everything passed from your hand into His? He is still sitting and observing. He is seated now in the true temple which the Lord built, and not man. He sees beyond the surface, He sees your heart.
One thing is necessary. The Lord Jesus has a question for you: But who do you say that I am? -Mt.16:15. You must answer this by your life, and not only with your lips.
Our devotion is sickly because our thoughts of the Lord are beggarly while our esteem for self is highly inflated. We love little because we have been forgiven little. We are not that bad in our own estimation. We have some sins to be sure, but the extent is minimal we imagine. And so, we remain loveless and devotionless.
Which of them will love him more? Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly…he who is forgiven little, loves little” -Lk.7:42,43,47. The estimation of our own guilt determines our response to the Lord Jesus. Simon was actually no better off than the harlot, except in his own deluded conceits.
It is not that one must wallow in horrible crimes in order to be devoted to the Lord Jesus. What is needed is a clear perception of the nature and reality of our own sinfulness. The woman wept in acute bitterness over her wretchedness. The Pharisee reclined with Jesus thinking to himself that all was well with him. She was painfully conscious of her condition; he remained in delusion and darkness. The woman judged herself, the Pharisee judged her and the Lord Jesus both, but not himself.
He imagined that he needed nothing. The truth is that he was a hypocritical son of hell (Mt.23:15). Actually, he was a blind fool full of self-indulgence (Mt.23:17, 25). If he would see himself clearly he would know that he was a whitewashed tomb full of all uncleanness and soon to be damned (Mt.23:27, 33).
But he did not think of himself in this manner. He therefore did not weep. He did not kiss the feet of the Lord Jesus. Neither was he forgiven; neither did he love. He thought much of himself and little of the Lord. He was devoted to his religion and his place therein, but he was not devoted to God.
Tearless saints lack devotion to the Lord Jesus. When have you last wept over the abysmal blight of who you truly are in the corrupt depths of your inner self? Do you kiss His feet as the sinner you are, or recline at His head in self-generated acceptability?
You may not congratulate yourself that you are not like others. You are, and worse. Doubting this, you shall never be justified or cleansed from your desperate evil (Lk.18:9-14). The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise -Ps.51:17.
According to the dictionary, contrite means “broken down with sorrow for sin; humbly and thoroughly penitent.” What does it mean to you? Judas kissed the Lord, but not His feet. He felt remorse, but shed no tear. He had a form of godliness, but denied the power thereof. He had the appearance of a disciple, but was not. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way -Ps.2:12.
Tears and kisses are not optional. One abides a Simon, or worse yet, a Judas, in their absence. There is no forgiveness apart from them. You will love but little, if at all.
One thing is necessary. Devotion to Christ is not an added element to our existing religion; it is the one indispensable foundation for all that is built upon it. Lacking this, our religion is a vapor and delusion.
Those who venture all for the Lord Jesus will not be understood by the devotionless multitude; they will not be by fellow disciples either. The lack of practicality of such “extremism” will draw the disapproval of the unconsecrated. It always does. The disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this might have been sold for a high price and given to the poor” -Mt.26:8, 9.
They were very expedient, conservatively calculating. The sum of their calculations was that man takes precedence over God, that needs preempt worship, and that ministry eclipses communion. Jesus said, “Let her alone” -Jn.12:7. There is something that transcends service and charity. It is the one necessary thing He prizes.
The Father seeks such to be His worshipers -Jn.4:23. He is seeking not for better servants, but for worshipers, for lovers, for tear-stained cheeks, for lips pressed to nail-scarred feet, for costly vials emptied upon a thorn-crowned head. He is seeking for those who will pour out every precious thing in their possession upon the Son of God; to do so because He is worthy due to the excellence of His glory.
This is the essence of gospel response. It is what the Lord has been seeking even from before time immemorial. He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love -Eph.1:4. Holy, in love; isn’t this what it means to know God? Is this not what eternal life is, and ever will be?
But those who are forgiven little love little. Those who reserve for self do not value Christ. Those who are occupied with activities do not chose the good part. And those who focus upon the ever-present poor will always ask: “Why this waste?”
Why, indeed? Because there is nothing better that one can do. There is nothing else that is truly required. Those who love little call it waste. He who loves His own to the uttermost calls it necessary. Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her -Mt.26: 13. What she did is what the gospel demands.
The conclusion of Paul’s gospel is to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice -Rom. 12:1. This is what she did. All that she had, she gave. What it cost her was of no concern. What others thought did not turn her away: He was worthy. This is what filled her heart, which in turn filled the house with the fragrance of Christ unto God -2 Cor.2:15.
Kept to herself, the ointment did no good to any; neither to her, the poor, nor the Lord Jesus. Kept to yourself, of what benefit are you? One may well ask of you, ”Why this waste?” Why are you wasting on self that which ought to be entirely poured out upon the person of Christ? What is He worth to you?
Others have gone to great lengths for lesser gain. The queen of Sheba traversed from afar to hear, firsthand, the wisdom of Solomon. She saw him and spoke to him of all that was upon her heart. She perceived the wisdom of his words and the splendor of his house. She sat at meat with him and tasted of his table. His servants were blessed and their amenities fine.
When she gazed upon his ascent to the house of God, there was no more spirit in her -I Kings 10:5. She was overwhelmed. She confessed that she did not believe the word she had heard in her own land.
She had thought less of Solomon than he was worthy of. When her eyes were opened, the realization rushed upon her that the half was not told me -I Kings 10:7. So great was he, so magnificent, grand in wisdom, and glorious in riches; there was none his equal.
Her mouth could contain it no longer. Praise pealed from her lips. Riches poured from her hands. Spices; rare, fragrant, exhilarating aromas wafted their delights throughout the house of Solomon. Never again did such abundance of spices come in as that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon -I Kings 10:10. Solomon was glorified. He was delighted. And the queen was blessed from his abundance (I Kings 10:13).
Brethren, behold, something greater than Solomon is here -Mt.12:42. The Lord Jesus exceeds Solomon as the sun does a match, as the sea a dewdrop. He is greater and He is here.
You have heard of Him by the hearing of the ear. His word has reached you in your land. But what of you; have you arisen to come to Him, to seek His face, to hear His wisdom?
When you see Him as He is, when you perceive the glories of His house and the blessedness of His servants, as you gaze into His face and feast at His table, and behold His ascent to His Father’s house, there will remain in you no more spirit.
You will confess that you have not believed the word you heard in your own land. You will realize that you have thought Him to be far less worthy than you had ever imagined. You will abhor yourself in dust and ashes. Then your tongue will be loosed in praise and your hand will relax its grip on all you have clutched to your bosom. Gladly all will be given.
The insignificance, foolishness, and pride of your heart will be seen in the light of His glory. And you will bring forth spices uncountable. You will become devoted to the Lord Jesus. You will have tasted of the one necessary thing. He will be glorified and pleased. You will be blessed from His bounty.
But you must arise and come. You will not be devoted to Him staying where you are. You must come to where your tears will cascade upon Him, where your lips will meet His feet. He cannot be anointed from afar. His word will not be heard amidst the bustle of your activities. You must come to His feet, both to hear and to weep. It is there that you shall discover the one necessary thing.
Some of you will come; some of you will not. It is because of this that I must tell you one other thing about the Queen of Sheba. She will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here -Mt.12:42.
She was compelled by the greatness of that king of peace to seek him earnestly. At all costs and with glad sacrifice she came to see his face, hear his wisdom, and behold his glory. It was a great expenditure for a lesser reward. She will condemn this generation. Her very life will bear solemn testimony to the wickedness of hearts in not arising and seeking the Lord Jesus Christ.
This queen will be there, as will you, at the Judgment. The King will ask you, “Do you see this woman who came from the ends of the earth? How far have you come in pursuit of the one necessary thing in life, devotion to My Son, the Lord Jesus Christ?”
Many will be speechless on that day, but not the Queen of the South.
She will turn and ask, “Why this waste?”
One thing is necessary