The Main Thing – by Larry Medcalfe

“The Main Thing”

“Make the main thing, the main thing!” I don’t remember which coach at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp first said it, but I have never forgotten it. Although it sounds like double talk, it’s actually a great reminder of how to determine priorities in life. What’s really most important? What are the essentials for making the best decisions, developing fine tuned disciplines, and growing the deepest relationships? Those essentials are what that same coach would describe as mastering the fundamentals; understanding and executing the basics. It’s when those rudimentary things are consistently embraced that great things are possible. What defines a truly devoted follower of Jesus…knowing and living out His basics. And how does Jesus describe those basics? “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…learn from me …remain in me and my love…obey me…follow me.” Get the picture? Jesus’ main thing is Jesus himself.

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17)

Arguably one of the best Biblical examples of “making the main thing, the main thing” was in Mary of Bethany’s encounter with Jesus as recorded in Luke 10:38-42. I love this account for many reasons but mostly for the clear message Jesus communicated regarding what was most important to him. Mary’s sister, Martha, had good intentions  but they fell short of what Jesus needed from her. Mary understood what was necessary and she did the “one thing” that Jesus required by sitting at the feet of Jesus “listening to what he said”. More than anything else Jesus wants to build an intimate relationship with us and that is only possible when we make his main thing, the main thing. Are there any good intentions in your life that are falling short of what Jesus needs from you? Is Jesus’ “one thing” a daily reality for you?

“God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.” (John Piper)


At the close of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Elizabeth’s father questioned her decision to stay with Will Turner. The Governor reminded her that Will was just a blacksmith. She emphatically corrected her father by saying, “No, he’s a pirate!” His identity had been lost to a life as a buccaneer. Are you willing to lose your identity to Jesus? Mary did in Matthew 26:6-13. Her time doing “the one thing” that Jesus required prepared her to do “a beautiful thing” to Jesus, anointing his head with expensive perfume. Her undaunted devotion was an imitation of Jesus’ impact on the world; costly, controversial, humble, and memorable. When you spend time with Jesus you can’t help but start thinking like him and acting like him. Are you ready to be identified with Jesus by doing “a beautiful thing” to him and for him?

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5)


Indiana is the kingdom of basketball, and for me, the king who reigns is homegrown, hall of famer Larry Bird. I still love watching video of his playing days and reading of how he developed average athleticism into one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Larry was all about “making the main thing, the main thing”. His work ethic is legendary. He was always the first to arrive at the arena and the last to leave. His passion to play well was off the charts, he was extremely fit, and he never ceased honing the fundamentals of the game. He said he wanted to be prepared for anything. Are you prepared for anything? I believe Mary was. To me, Mary is a spiritual hall of famer. She kept her spirit fit by sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42), her passion for Jesus was demonstrated by her walking in the steps of Jesus (Matthew 26:6-13), and as she honed the fundamentals of her faith, Jesus opened her eyes to see him in a new light when he raised her brother from the dead (John 11:28-44). Jesus commended Mary for her spiritual work ethic.

What might he say about yours?

Are you pursuing the “one thing” he requires?                                                                                                                         Are you giving the “beautiful thing” he receives?                                                                                                                     Are you receptive to the “new things” he wants to reveal to you?

“Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42)


Wow, how this week has flown? Where’d the time go? How am I going to get everything done? I know what the “main thing” is, but how do I make it the “main thing” with so much on my plate? Sound familiar? Charles Hummel calls this the “tyranny of the urgent” in his small but powerful booklet of the same name. An acquaintance once told him that, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important”. In other words, how do you determine your priorities? If you’re like me, the things that you really want to do will get done one way or the other. Jesus wants to be our top priority just as his Father was his top priority while he ministered on earth. In spite of fatigue, the demands of his disciples, the distractions from his opposition, and the needs of the multitudes Jesus knew how important “the main thing” was to his ministry. To borrow a tag from Nike, you might say he “just did it!” The love for his Father and his desire to obey him was far more important than the urgent matters that he would face every day (Mark 1:35). Don’t let the urgent in your life crowd out the most important relationship you’ll ever have. “Just do it!”

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching…” (John 14:23)

Next to the Bible, Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest is the most significant book I read regularly. I’d like for OC to conclude our thoughts with his own insights on “MAKING THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING”.

“Think about your circumstances. Are you so closely identified with the Lord’s life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to him and realizing that everything comes from the Father’s hands? Is the grace of his ministering life being worked out through you in your home, your business, and in your circle of friends (which includes our precious 3 footers)? The life of your Lord is to become your vital, simple life, and the way he worked and lived among people while here on earth must be the way he works and lives in you.”

~Oswald Chambers

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

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