“According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”Philippians 1:20-21
Everyone gets discouraged sometimes. We may be discouraged by our current circumstances, past regrets, the prospects of our future, or a desperate search for significance. Indeed, even King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, lamented that all of our striving is meaningless, merely a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). And to an extent that is true. All of our worldly striving is meaningless in the grand scheme of eternity.
But Christ gives meaning to our lives, our moments, and even our deaths. Because He lives, we have a purpose today and hope for tomorrow.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, the Apostle Paul reminds us of this motivational truth. Though he was imprisoned, he knew the Lord had a great purpose for his life and explained that his seemingly dire circumstances were actually working to advance the cause of Christ. In fact, he went on to say the whole imperial guard had come to know he was imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ, and that his imprisonment caused others to courageously preach the gospel!
Rather than allowing his circumstances to define his life, Paul found encouragement and hope in the confidence that Christ is working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Moreover, Paul wrote his greatest hope was that he would courageously exalt Christ through every circumstance—through his life and through his death.
He went on to write this familiar verse: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul found all his meaning and purpose in Jesus Christ—nothing more, nothing less. If he lived, he would have more time to honor Christ through productive labor. If he died, he would actually profit because his eternity with Christ in heaven was secure.
For the believer, to live is Christ. Your life has a purpose. Your life has meaning. God gives you each day as an opportunity to exalt Him through fruitful labor for Him. As a church, we are called to equip the saints—that’s you—for the work of the ministry in your family, job, community, and in the world.
Likewise, for the believer, to die is gain. You have hope. No matter your story, no matter your circumstances. Those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins can rest assured they will be united with Him in heaven for all eternity.
Let us exalt Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives and look forward to the day we see Him face to face. Because He lives, to live is Christ and to die is gain.