For most of us, life presents dozens of options for career and lifestyle, passions and hobbies. In our pursuit of pleasure and meaning we run here and there, trying one job or recreational activity after another, collecting experiences but never devoting ourselves to one direction. Christians do this in their spiritual lives and ministries as well, bouncing from one teaching or church to another, trying on ministries like they try on clothes. But today, the call of God to the church is to dismiss ourselves from hither-and-thither chasings and cultivate a heart of unwavering devotion. He wants us to love Him, first and foremost, with all of our hearts. He wants us to be a people of one thing.
As you gaze upon the heart of God and begin to grasp that His emotions toward you are of gladness and burning passion for intimacy, nothing in the world will suffice. What you enjoy and desire narrows down to one thing. You begin to want to pour out your life in extravagant devotion upon the feet of Jesus. When your heart is conquered by the One who is fascinating, then no other captivation will satisfy. You will refuse to dwell anywhere but in this position of waiting on Him. You'll pursue Him alone, not allowing yourself to be distracted by anything less. Your hunger will be fixed on a single Source. There will be no going back to what used to bring satisfaction. Secondary pleasures will fade away.
This way of living, while exhilarating, disturbs and provokes people who are still living for many things. They ask, "Why waste your time on that? Why this extreme devotion? What's going on here? You've got to diversify, be more well-rounded, cultivate other interests. You're putting all your eggs in one basket." They don't understand the extravagance of being single-mindedly His. They feel blamed because their lifestyle is not focused on one thing. They might conclude that the person of one thing is mentally off or caught up in religious fanaticism, or has gone too far and will eventually swing back to normal.
But they misunderstand what's on the heart of God. The first commandment, the primary thing God is concerned with, is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind." That is precisely what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church world-wide. He is cultivating hearts that are unreserved. He is promoting the kind of single-minded devotion the world is frightened of. Many in the church will reject it, and many will embrace it, but when the transformation is complete we will no longer ask, "What is the minimum that is required of me? What can I get by with?" Rather, we'll ask, "What is the very most I can give? I want to give it all!" When you discover the pleasure of living for one thing, you become ruined for anything less.
The Bible gives compelling illustrations of extravagant devotion we can use as models for becoming people of one thing. The first picture is in 2 Samuel 23 when three of David's mighty men performed an amazing feat on behalf of their king. "Then three of the thirty chief men ...came to David at the cave of Adullum...and David said with a longing, oh, that someone would give me a drink from the water which is from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate (2 Sam. 23:13-17)."
At this time, David had been anointed king, but he was not yet king. Jealous King Saul was chasing him from cave to cave. In fleeing this evil pursuit, David wandered in the wilderness for about seven years as three thousand or so men searched for him to kill him. About six hundred men joined David and they made their main headquarters the cave of Adullum. The Philistines were defeating the nation of Israel and had just captured David's hometown, Bethlehem. It was probably late one night, and David was likely bemoaning the fact that the Philistines were moving in and taking so much of the land. I imagine him and his men around the fire, the firelight and shadows dancing across their faces, and David saying with longing, "Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!"
Some of the mighty warriors of David's army were at the front of the cave, no doubt guarding it from attack. Hearing David's longing, they got together and said, "Let's go get him some of that water." They knew it might cost them their lives, but they loved David with extravagance, and it thrilled their hearts to answer his request. They were a picture of the passionate loyalty we should have to Christ Jesus. They went far beyond the call of duty to answer the longing in their king's heart.
These three mighty men gathered their swords and spears and went out. Undoubtedly as they approached the Philistine front line, they saw hundreds of enemy soldiers. Perhaps they were afraid for a moment, but that fear was overcome by the anticipation of that moment when they would bring their king what he desired, and so David's mighty men broke through the Philistine camp and went all the way through the front line. I picture them working their way to the well and fighting for every inch of ground. Two of them probably fought while one scooped up the water. Once they retrieved it, they started back through the enemy line toward the cave of Adullum. I imagine them hissing to each other, "Don't spill that water, whatever you do! It's precious stuff." When they got back to the cave, they presented the water to David and proudly proclaimed, "We have the very water from the well of Bethlehem."
David's eyes probably grew wide. I can imagine the appreciation, the thirst, the amazement he was feeling. But he would not drink the water he so desired because of its preciousness. He said, "Far be it from me, oh Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives (v. 17)?" He recognized that the water could have cost his men everything. He might have looked them square in the eye and said, "Your children could have been orphans. Your wives could have been widowed. You could have lost everything to get me this water. It's too holy for a man to drink because it represents your entire life." So David took the water and went before the Lord. The water was one of the most holy gifts that had ever been given to him, and he poured it out to the Lord and worshiped God with words that probably expressed this idea: "Father, only You are worthy of this water."
Of all the stories that could have been told of David and his men, this story became famous as one of the most extravagant acts of devotion toward the king. There were 1.3 million soldiers in David's army at the peak of his military career. From that number, God highlighted only three examples of exceptional valor and commitment to David. It's important to pay attention to them. For us, this becomes a picture of devotion to King Jesus. It's a pattern for becoming people of one thing, with hearts after God's.
What made those men risk their lives for a few drinks of water? Was it boredom? Bluster? Misplaced bravery? Desire for fame? Desire for promotion? Did they want a pay raise from David, or an easier schedule, or some time off to spend with their families? I don't think so. I believe the courage of David's mighty men came from one thing: their absolute, to-the-death devotion to him. Their boldness and perseverance which spurred them to unusual feats of bravery sprang from sold-out commitment to David, representing for us the Lord Jesus. I imagine them answering to David for sneaking off to get the water. I can almost hear them say, "David, we didn't care about losing our lives. Don't you see? We lost our lives when we joined you." David was a symbol of their salvation. When these mighty men came to him, they were distressed, discontented and in debt and David became their captain. The crowd that gathered to him in the cave of Adullum was the most motley youth group in the history of Israel. David redeemed them from worthless lives. When they had nothing to live for, he gave them a vision and a cause. He trained them and made them an army and a family. He shared his heart with them, and their hearts were ennobled and encouraged. They saw the beauty of who David was, his godliness and the favor of God upon him. They became men of one thing, willing to live courageously because of their burning love for him. It illustrates exactly the kind of abandonment God wants us to give to Christ Jesus.
Beloved, the only way we will have the courage to do extravagant acts of valor is if our hearts are enraptured by our God. The Lord desires people who go beyond the minimum requirements. He searches for lives of lavish commitment. Our goal should be to stand before Him on the last day and offer ourselves to Him like these three men offered the water to David at expense of their lives. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:28 that on the last day Jesus will gather all of these sweet things called the devotion of His people and place them at His Father's feet. Then He will kneel down and offer Himself to His Father so that His Father will be all in all. In that moment we will be Jesus' gift back to His Father. We will be the sweet water He offers. This prophetic picture will be complete. He will take us like David did and pour us out to God the Father.
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