"To live is Christ & to die is gain."
Pray: Humbly ask God for wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and faith to live out what He reveals to you.
Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo or maybe what phrase you’d like on your tombstone? Something better than I Heart Mom or R.I.P.! Morbid, but gets you thinking doesn’t it? You want a phrase that is timeless, succinct, meaningful and is bigger than your life. While writing from prison, Paul throws us a softball, the perfect phrase for both a life verse and a tombstone epitaph; one of the most memorable verses in the Bible - "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (vs. 21)
For the remainder of Chapter 1 we see Paul challenging the people of Philippi to continue the work of spreading the Gospel, making full use of our time on this Earth while we have it. Paul highlights the conflict that we all have: how we need to be forward-thinking about our future home in heaven, yet not overlooking or misusing the time we have here on Earth. We live in the tension of the 'now' and the 'not yet'.
I'm the type of person that likes to know when things end. I read books and obsessively follow the page numbers, or I'll peek ahead to how long I have left in a chapter. When I go see a movie, I always look up the movie's running time to know when it will be over. When I'm watching a game that goes into overtime, I'm immediately annoyed - even when my team was the one trailing before end of regulation.
I like to know what I'm getting into. How about you? So without knowing when our time on Earth will end, there's two reactions we can have on the spectrum:
- If you're like me, it makes you anxious and it tends to interfere with how you manage your time and maybe more importantly, what you spend your time doing. Or…
- If you're like Paul, it empowers you! It keeps you focused on the big picture. Paul calls us through his letter to the Philippians to live our lives worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Now in verses 22-24 Paul raises another common challenge, for me at least. Should we look forward to dying and entering heaven? The answer is an obvious yes, but what should we look forward to more? The time we have left on earth or the day when we leave? As we read through the rest of this chapter we see the two go hand-in-hand. Our time on Earth is more necessary, and it is our time to reach our lost friends with the gospel, dive into the life of City Church and help one another keep growing more like Jesus. We should approach every day being kingdom-focused - seeking every opportunity to make much of Jesus here in our city.
I hope you'll join me this week in taking things one new day at a time, getting excited about heaven and yet living surrendered to Jesus in everyday life. I pray we can all wake up each day, free from worry about when or how we’ll die, and instead be prayerfully asking for opportunities to share the gift of salvation through Jesus with others before their life ends. In the meantime, lets not worry about how our chapter ends and focus on “living our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (vs. 27)
1. So what phrase do you want on your tombstone? Would verse 21 be a good representative of your life and/or hope? Why or why not?
2. Why do you suppose Paul was writing on these kinds of subjects to the Philippian Christians?
3. What are some areas of your life that are out of line with the gospel? (not in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (vs. 27). Ask the Lord to show you where you need to make changes by the power of His Spirit so that you can live a life worthy of the gospel.