For me, death seems kind of far away. I still see myself as young, although I guess I’m technically classified as middle-aged.
But for Paul as he wrote this letter, he really had no idea how much longer he would live. He was reasonably confident that his trial before Nero would go well and he would be released, but he wasn’t sure.
And so he said,
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. (20)
To Paul, ultimately, he didn’t care one way or another whether he was set free or condemned to death by Nero. What was important to Paul was that in life or death that Christ would be exalted in him. So every moment he lived, with every breath he took, he desired to glorify Christ. And should he die, he wanted Christ to be glorified in that too.
That should be our attitude as well. To live each day for the glory of Christ. But how many days go by when that thought never crosses our minds? We get so wrapped up in our jobs, our lives, our troubles. In short, we get so focused on the things of this world that Christ gets forgotten entirely. That’s not how our Christian lives should be. Rather, our attitude should be the same as Paul’s.
For to me, to live is Christ. (21a)
Can you say that? Or are you living for other things?
There may be some of you, though, for whom death is nearer. Right now my wife’s grandmother is near that time. She’s 102 years old now, and as of two weeks ago is no longer eating, but is only on IVs, although she is still conscious.
How do you face death? Can you say as Paul did,
To die is gain. (21b)
Do you have confidence as Paul did that while life on this earth is a gift, and each day is a chance to glorify God with our lives, that heaven is so much better? Are you torn between serving Christ here on earth and touching the lives of others, and being with Christ at last?
Or are you clinging to life here, living for yourself, and in utter fear of what lies on the other side of death?
You don’t have to fear. Stop living for yourself, and put your faith in Christ. He died on a cross that your sins may be forgiven. More than that, he showed that he had power over the grave by rising from the dead. And now he promises, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)
All you need to do is give your life to him. And in doing so, you will find life.
It starts with a prayer.
Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I have turned my back on you and lived for myself. But in doing that, I’ve hurt others, I’ve hurt myself, but most importantly, I’ve hurt you. Forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. Now please wash away my sins. I want to live for you now. I pray that each day until the day I die that you may be exalted in me. In Jesus name, amen.