A small child once wrote, “Dear God, what is it like when you die? Nobody will tell me. I just want to know because I don’t want to do it!”
From the outside looking in, the celebration of Easter might seem to be about Christ’s suffering, death, and payment for our sins. But, for those of us who believe in the truth of His resurrection we know that it is really all about life – abundant and eternal life. But sometimes this can be easy to lose sight of. We grown-ups are often focused on the how-to’s of the good life in the here and now.
But, my fellow believers in Christ, God’s suffering servant Paul gives us both answers. In Philippians 1:18-25 Paul shows us not only how to live, but also how to die. In both life… and death… Paul is a “saint,” one dedicated to the service of the Lord – to Him and to His people. It is very likely that Paul thought about death each and every day in prison as he waited for a verdict that could be a death sentence. And yet he wrote:
18“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance… 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?
23I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith…”
Oh, how Paul loved the Lord! And, oh how Paul yearned to be with the Lord he loved! Yet, he subordinated his personal desire to his pastoral responsibility. He chose to use his days on earth so others might know Christ.
The Bible tells us that Christ is exalted in our body as long as we live (verse 20). It also tells us “for if we live, we live for the Lord” (Romans 14:8). Life for Paul, above all, meant more ministry, more time to teach and serve others, and more time for fruitful labor. May that be so for us! Life is more than planning for success, saving money, seeking personal goals, early retirement, living in leisure, and living it up. Let us live with Heaven and our Lord and Savior in our view!
Won’t you join with countless others and make this key verse to Philippians, verse 21, your creed… for life and death? Will you join with fellow believers who live and lived by these inspired words? Those martyrs who are among us and came before us, as with John the Baptist and Paul are part of the great cloud of witnesses who show us how to live and to die.
For more encouragement for your soul see my book, Loving God with all Your Mind.