Philippians 1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
To live, to die, in Christ ... is gain? What? Hang on, there's more. The apostle Paul also tells us that heaven is a gift given and received by grace alone because of God's generosity and not because of our works. What? That doesn't sound fair; it doesn't sound right. Well, that's what most people say today. One of the great problems with Christianity for many people is that it treats all people exactly alike. We're all 100-percent sinners who receive God's love as 100-percent grace—or we can't receive it at all.
It seems so unfair until you realize how grave our predicament is—not only in this world—but in our lives. Before God, we're all in the same boat. As I get older, I realize how entrapping sin and temptations are. I realize how inept all of us are at doing the right thing at the right time for the people who need it when we don't get anything out of it but the joy of doing what's right alone. That doesn't mean we should stop trying. But it does mean that even when we actually do something right, for the right reason, for the right purpose, even that is a gift of God's grace at work through His love in our lives.
Jesus wants us to be His people for others. He wants us to live life in Him for others. He wants us to speak His truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15), with gentleness and respect. Why? Because He ultimately wants all people to come to faith and trust in Him alone.
When the apostle Paul says that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain," he was being clear. Life is about Jesus Christ being our Lord and Savior. We live now in Him and through Him for others. And even the greatest challenge to life—physical death itself—can't get in the way of Him blessing us with life and salvation, even then. Thank God it's not my life; it's not your life to be lived on our own, with our strength and wisdom alone. Look at human history, and you'll see how that story ends. Thank God there is another way to live. It's one that blesses now and forever. To that end, God bless you today and always.
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, give me courage to live fully for Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "Life on God's Terms," a devotional message from Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Why is it hard sometimes to do the right thing when nobody's watching?
2. Why would Paul ever say "to live is Christ, and to die is gain"? What do you think he meant by that?
3. When faced with a difficult challenge, how do you turn it over to God for His guidance and help?
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