Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…
Paul's experience teaches us that one unmutilated and entire idea is as much as a man can entertain in his soul, or actualize in his lifetime. Nor herein was Paul's experience anomalous. Such has been the experience as well of all truly efficient men. None of them ever entertained more than one great aim or purpose of being. Noah was a man of one idea. His idea was an ark! And though he did other things, yet the one great thought, moving as a glorious dream through all his chambers of imagery, was something that would float upon stormy and shoreless seas! And this one thing he did — he built. Abraham was of this class. His one idea was a city. He, too, did other things; he trained his servants, commanded his household after him, etc. But amidst his fairest dreams by the ancestral waters, a great voice out of heaven spake to him of "a city which hath foundations, whose builder was God." And evermore afterwards he journeyed towards that city. Nor of regenerated men only is the thought true — of all men who retain amid their moral ruins some lines of the mutilated Divine image — is this a characteristic. A singleness of aim and effort ever hath been — ever will be — the secret of all noble human accomplishment. Napoleon was the most efficient man of his own time, not because gifted above his fellows, either physically or intellectually, but because universal empire was his single aim — he lived only to conquer! Demosthenes was the prince of all earth's orators, not because God gave him a splendid voice, and exquisite grace of motion, but because eloquence was his one idea. He lived only to sweep, as with a roused tempest, over all the AEolian sympathies of the human heart. Newton was the king of astronomers, not because his eye was keener as it scanned the heavens, nor because God gave him mighty wings to sweep through the empyrean, but because, with the power of an omnipresent dream, the constellations of heaven were flashing on his soul! The stars were in his heart. His life was in the stars. So is it ever: singleness of aim, oneness of effort — the gathering of thought, feeling, heart, soul, life into one intense absorbing passion — is the secret of all greatness. And no wonder that Paul was the very chief of the apostles, so that the earth shook at his tread, as when a giant goes on pilgrimage; not because he had read Grecian lore in Cilician schools, and mastered the Hebrew law at Gamaliel's feet, but because, with his heart all afire within him, and his eye, as the eagle's on the sun, fixed on one sublime purpose — in that one thing he gloried — to that one thing he tended.
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,