Are you living for Christ? (1) Babatunde Olugboji
Paul’s seminal statement in Philippians 1:21, ‘For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain,’ is instructive in many ways. Paul was in essence declaring: ‘Christ is the center of my existence. My life revolves around Him.’
Living for Christ is the topic of our discussion this week and next.
If you were asked to complete the statement. ‘For me to live is…’ what would you have to say? For me to live is to acquire wealth, live in a mansion and have a few millions stashed in a numbered bank account? For me to live is to have a successful career? For me to live is to be a good parent? These are great things to aspire to but should not be the main things that we live for as believers. What matters in the final analysis is to live for Christ. You can’t declare that ‘to live is Christ,’ like Paul did, if you are living for anything else.
If for you to live is to be financially successful, then it follows logically that to die is to lose it all, to die is great loss, a monumental tragedy. You can only say to die is gain when you have lived your life for Christ. So, if a person had lived their life for Christ, there won’t be any need to grieve over their passing. We can grieve over the loss, we can sorrow over the passing of a loved one, but not as those who have no hope. We mourn because we are going to miss them, but we don’t sorrow for them. For if a person is living for Christ, to die is gain.
Paul, who was imprisoned in Rome at the time he wrote the letter to the Philippians, wasn’t sure what he would choose: life or death, for both are good in his sight. It is a win-win situation for him, but he said he desired to depart, and to be with Christ; which he considered far better. (Philippians 1:23)
Paul was torn between what he regarded as two excellent options. ‘For I have the desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. So, I really don’t know what to choose. I am facing a dilemma. I’m facing life or death, but I don’t really know which is better.’ It appeared that Paul’s real desire was to go and be with the Lord, which he thought was far better, but he also knew his assignment wasn’t finished on earth. ‘I am aware that you need me. My desire is to go and be with Christ, but you need me. I am torn, torn by your need of my continued ministry, and by my desire to be with the Lord.’ (Philippians 1:24 ).
Paul’s desire to ‘depart’ appeared to be a metaphor taken from the commander of a vessel, in a foreign port, who feels a strong desire, to set sail, and get to his own country and family; but this desire is counterbalanced by a conviction that the general interests of the voyage may be best answered by his longer stay in the port where his vessel was at that time.
When a person who truly lived for Christ dies, as believers, we shouldn’t have the wrong attitude towards death by thinking, what a pity, what a shame, he didn’t live to eat the fruit of his labor. We should believe that he has transitioned to glory, to be with Christ, which is gain.
Have a great week.
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