To Live is Christ

   Paul's words in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain," are profound.  It is sometimes difficult to understand the depth of what he meant by those words.  To Paul, living as Christ meant that the greatest joy in life is knowing Christ.  That kind of life is something much greater than Christian acts of service; it is a delight in Christ. 
All of us live for something, whether it is a good marriage, stable family, money, a great job, popularity, or Christ.  And you really see how much something means to you when you see how much it devastates you to lose it or when something threatens to take it away from you.  Paul found something better than anything life can give and something that death can never take away.  His greatest joy is knowing Christ, and after death, being brought into His eternal presence.
   Paul, like Christ, found joy in pouring out his life for others.  Jesus gave up Heaven to become a servant and to die on a cross for our sins. Paul discovered that the secret to successful living was to love as Christ loves.  As a result, Paul was not overwrought because he was in prison; he saw it as an opportunity to tell others about Jesus.  When other people, who were preaching Christ out of selfish ambition, tried to stir up trouble against Paul, Paul rejoiced because Christ was preached regardless of the motive.  Many of us see life as all about us; we live lives of consumption and gratification.  However, we find joy when we learn to pour out our lives, everything we are and have, in service to Christ and others. 
   Finally, Paul knew to live is Christ meant that God had a purpose in Paul's suffering.  The cross that Jesus died on was an act of great evil and injustice, but out of it God brought healing and salvation to the world.  Likewise, Paul knew that God would use the injustices and suffering Paul endured for the good of others and himself.  God did not simply capitalize on the suffering in Paul's life to bring glory to himself; God allowed Paul's suffering for God's purpose.  Instead of whining about our circumstance, maybe we should look to see if God is using it for the salvation of others.
   I can be in the worst situation, but understanding that to live is Christ, I have no fear.  Instead, I have complete joy because I am no longer dependent on the circumstances of life for my joy; I have it all in Christ.
Pastor Boyd

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