A DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT by Pastor Phil
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Paul writes these words from prison in Rome. You can sense the tension in his words. The possibility of death, by execution in his case, was very real and immediate. So, in preparing himself and his friends for the possibility (one can argue the inevitability) of his death, Paul shares his thoughts about life and death with his friends in Philippi.
Let’s start with death (because I would prefer ending with life!). For Paul, death was not something he feared. Paul saw death as a positive because being with Christ “was better by far.” That is true for you and I. Heaven is better by far. It is something we look forward to with excitement rather than dread. The irony of death for a Christian is that it really means LIFE as we have never experienced or can barely imagine. “Oh, what a glorious day that will be” is how the old hymn describes it. Do you know that to be true?
The possibility of death had no hold on Paul because for Paul, and us, death is nothing more than a blink, if even that. So, the fear of death could not be used to threaten Paul and as a result he was bold in his living and sharing the Good News of Jesus. Because he was prepared for death, Paul was able to fully live life.
That brings us to life. Paul was realistic about the real possibility of his death, he looked forward to it even, but he also embraced and saw the importance of living fully now. Paul knew that his living had benefit for others, as far as Paul was concerned, that was the only reason for living—to benefit others. “Convinced of this,” Paul says, “I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.”
Understand, that living for Paul meant being in prison. For Paul, living was not comfortable or safe. But comfort and “quality of life” wasn’t his focus. Paul saw every day of life as an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus and/or to build up someone’s faith in Jesus and inspire them to tell others about Jesus.
I want to have that attitude. I want you to have that attitude. Prepared and comfortable with death so that I can focus on living each day for Christ. So, when death comes, my life and legacy will be worth celebrating.
Are you confident of your salvation and hope of eternal life? If not, talk to one of the staff about it. Don’t wait, it’s too important.
Let’s all be able to say with sincerity and confidence. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”