To Live Is Christ
Read Philippians 1:21-22 (ESV)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.
How was Paul able to say, “to die is gain”?
When someone dies, it is customary to console their loved ones for their loss. We say “I am sorry for your loss” and we genuinely mean it. We value human life and when a life is lost, it hurts. Death is a permanent separation from the people we love in this life. Death stings.
Because of this, many people cannot comprehend what Paul said in today’s verses. He says, “to die is gain.” How can the loss of your life be considered a gain or a “profit”? Well, in order to understand, the first part of Paul’s statement has to be true for your life: “To live is Christ.” Dying can only be profitable for you if you are living in Christ and for Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 Paul says: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Paul is saying that it is God who gives us the victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, death still stings! For those who have not trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, death is a tragedy. But for those of us who have trusted Christ, we have victory over death because our lives are in Christ.
So what now? Now that we’ve conquered death through Jesus Christ, how are we supposed to live? Paul said we are to dedicate our entire lives to Christ. ” Consider how Paul opened this letter to the Philippians: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 1:1). In today’s verses, Paul says that to live means “fruitful labor for me.” And in 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul says that because we have victory over death we should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
Paul had a magnificent obsession—a singular focus. For Paul, living was about Jesus Christ. That’s it. His whole life was dedicated to the work of the Lord. All that truly mattered was knowing Christ and making Him known. That is what Paul meant when he said “for me to live is Christ.”
Friends, dying is gain only if living is Christ. Is Jesus what makes your life worth living? Is Jesus your singular focus? Is doing His work the great work of your life? What is your life if Christ isn’t in it?
Jesus, I want You to be my singular focus. Without You, my life is nothing. Help me to glorify You in everything that I say and do. May my life be about knowing You and making You known. Amen.