For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:21
READ more on this verse at Bible Gateway.
Paul’s words here are some of the most challenging in the Bible. But they also offer an incredibly comforting perspective. The old puritans used to encourage us to think often of the day of our death. I don’t know about you, but the thought of death still makes me uncomfortable. It’s not something I look forward to. It’s not something anyone enjoys the process of.
The heart of Christianity is a faith and a hope that turns death into just the beginning. The reason Paul was in one sense eager to depart was because he knew that Jesus was waiting for him on the other side.It is an amazing thing that we can face death with a similar attitude. Because of Jesus, death has lost its sting!
Of course this verse does not aim to encourage suicide. As the rest of the passage explains, Paul knew he had a job to do here first. But the challenge to us is do we really believe the gospel. Do we really think we will be united with Jesus and our loved ones who have died in him?
This perspective changes how we live our lives. Ultimately it means that we have an eternal perspective and rather than living for the here and now we live for that day. Our daily choices are informed by our final destination, and we ask how can we make an eternal difference?
Such a perspective also changes the way we grieve when loved ones die.