Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.(Phil 1:20-24)
A week or two ago I woke one morning with the phrase “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” repeating in my head.
To me this part of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a kind of “to be or not to be” moment in Paul’s ministry, where he momentarily weighs up the pros and cons of life or death. But unlike Shakespeare’s character in Hamlet, Paul’s alternatives both have some kind of spiritual merit.
“Not to be” – to die – means Paul would depart this world for a much better place, to be with the Christ he serves. He acknowledges this as a far better outcome for himself.
However the alternative – “to be” – or to live, means to live FOR Christ and to benefit others who are in need of his ministry.
I had to think on the question of what life means to me – do I look on it in the same way as Paul? Do I REALLY, in thought and action, consider living to be Christ? That the purpose of my life is Jesus and serving Him?
And what does “to live is Christ” mean for me personally, in reality, and not according to some glib reasoning?
And how should that be made evident through my life.