Paul makes an incredible statement in this passage, “To live is Christ and to die Is gain”. As Christians, we often glaze over the “to live” part of the statement and focus on the promise of life after death with Christ and the joys that will bring. Paul struggled with wanting to do both these things, however, we often elevate the eternal over the present life.
In this phrase, Paul is emphasising that his whole life is centred on Christ. If we read the book of Acts we can see the various ways he has sought to shape his life around Jesus and to be faithful to following and proclaiming Jesus in all he did. Jesus was at the centre of Paul’s life and Jesus directed all he did. To live, literally, was Christ. He rejoiced that Christ was preached (v15-18), he rejoiced that his suffering advanced the gospel (v12-14), he was thankful for the Philippian's partnership with him in the gospel and prayed that they would grow in Christ (v3-11) and abound with boasting in Christ (v25-26). His life was Christ-focused and directed.
Even in death, he was Christ-focused. He wanted to be with Christ. He wanted to show the world that Christ was more valuable than everything he had in this world and than anything that could be lost in his death. Christ was more valuable, more precious, more important to him than everything, and so he says, “to live is Christ and to die is gain”.
As we reflect on our lives do we live Christ focused and directed lives? Is he so central that everything that we do revolves around Him? Take some time today to reflect on how you might live for Christ today wherever he has called you.