Bible Commentary

PHILIPPIANS 11: To Die is Gain (1:19-26)

rembrandt-apostle_paulYes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 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? I do not know! 23I 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, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

I woke up this morning! No, really. Did you ever stop to think that some 6,000 people in our country and 156,000 around the world DID NOT wake up today? Every minute 107 people pass from this life into eternity. The mortality rate is still 100%. We’re all gonna make it! There is nothing we take more for granted than TODAY. Every one of you who is reading this right now is alive, breathing, full of life, potential, hopes and dreams. Does this frighten you? Does this depress you? Do you feel suddenly more vulnerable and fragile?

Christians are to view life differently than the rest of the world. We live with the magnificent hope that death has already been dealt its final blow on the Cross and with the Resurrection of Jesus on the third day. Death has no power over us. Death has no claim over us. Death is on its way out. We are “alive with Christ” and “because he lives we also shall live” on forever when he restores all things and raises us to new life on that glorious future day.

Paul provides a shockingly counter-cultural view of death, reminding us Christians of the “Eternal Perspective” that we ought to have toward life and death. Paul is in jail. He faces the real threat of having his life cut short. In fact, several years later Paul will be executed by the sword for treason by “proclaiming another King other than Caesar–King Jesus” (Acts 17:6).

Yet, he does not fear this. He knows that this life is all about proclaiming the good news ofJesus’ Resurrection, and death means going to be with Christ and sharing in that resurrection life! It’s a “win-win” situation. Paul is actually “torn” between life and death. Even more shockingly, death is not a LOSS but a GAIN for Paul. He would rather be with his Lord and Savior. But he knows that God still has work for him to do here.

Paul doesn’t worry about death. Paul worries about being called home before he accomplishes all that God has called him to do!  Wow! How can we begin living with this Eternal Perspective in mind? How will it change how we look at each and every day? Are you fearing death? Do you view death as a loss or gain?

Many of us can “talk the talk” when it comes to this kind of faith; but the sincerity of one’s faith is really tested in the fiery furnace of trials and tribulations that bring us face to face with our human frailty and mortality.  My friend Todd Johnson has been fighting terminal brain cancer since October 2008.  I had the opportunity to sit down with him this spring and ask how God has sustained him and his family through these challenging days.  WATCH VIDEO

I pray that you would all be encouraged by both Paul and Todd Johnson’s example and begin living with a hope and eagerness to meet your Savior some day. Yet, let us all make the most of everyday God gives us breath. You are alive today! Go live life to the fullest, and make it your sole ambition to exalt Christ with your body, whether you live or die!

***Approximately 600 people died in the time it took you to read this blog. Go live fully for God while you have breath!

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