For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
– Philippians 1:21 NASB
The apostle Paul wrote these words as part of his letter to the believers in the city of Philippi. He was making a declaration about himself. In doing so, however, he was also presenting himself as an example for the Philippians to follow. It’s an example for us to follow, too. In this one sentence is the outline of a complete worldview.
When Paul writes in the beginning “For to me,” he is calling attention to his choice in the matter. He is not speaking as a Jew or as a Roman. He is speaking as an individual human being. What he’s about to declare applies to himself because he’s decided to apply it to himself. He has authority over himself – no one has made his choice for him.
When Paul writes “to live is Christ,” he is expressing just how important Jesus Christ is to him. Christ is everything to Paul. Whereas Paul’s life used to revolve around himself, now it revolves around Christ. It’s not that Christ sits at the top of Paul’s priority list for the day – it’s that Paul’s priority list exists inside Paul’s awareness of, and love for, Christ. Christ is our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Redeemer. He does not exist to be part of our lives – He exists to be our lives. To live is Christ!
When Paul writes “and to die is gain,” he’s saying that death leads to heaven – not just for Paul, but for everyone. It is an entirely different way to think about death – one that never existed prior to Jesus, and one that people still have a hard time grasping even today. Because of Jesus, death is not a wall that we one day run up against – it’s a door that we one day walk through. When we walk through it, we’ll be judged for every day we lived on earth…including this one. Therefore, let’s make it a good one.
Lord, be my life today. Be life to me as You were to Paul. No one else is party to all of my thoughts as You are. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You. I will live today before You and make all my decisions – big and small – under Your watchful eye. When faced with a choice between what I want and what You think is right, I will do what You think is right. Amen.