Bible Reading: Philippians 1:19-26
“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21)
Why do you get up each morning? Have you ever stopped and thought about the real reason you should get out of bed and go about your daily activities? Or, do you only get up because you have to and would rather not if you did not have to?
For Paul, He had one thing that he desired, that Christ would be honoured through him whether he lived or died. Paul knew he was a child of God, and he wanted to please God with his whole existence. Paul also knew his weaknesses. He knew he was a horrid sinner, but by the grace of God, he had been rescued from the destruction of his sin. He knew by his own strength he could not honour God. And so, he put his trust in God who would hold him and help him live a life that now honoured God in all that he did.
Because Paul’s existence had one purpose - to honour God in everything - Paul resolved that his life on earth meant service to Christ. Paul says to live is to serve Christ in fruitful labour. Paul actually said he desired to be with God in heaven (i.e. to die and finish the race on earth) more than he did being on earth. To serve Christ is hard. At the time of writing Philippians, Paul was imprisoned because of his ministry, and we can just imagine the kinds of struggle Paul and the early church had to go through.
However, despite the struggle, Paul looked towards the example of Christ. Christ left his throne of Glory out of love to become the suffering servant here on earth who bore the weight and punishment of all our sin. Such profound truth we cannot truly grasp. However, Paul resolved in following Christ’s footsteps. It was not easy. Paul even said, “I am hard pressed between the two [ie. living for Christ or returning to Christ].” Yet, Paul returns again to his purpose. He desires to honour Christ. And so, he decides to stay to serve the church that they may continue to grow in faith and joy and that they “may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus”.
Paul ultimately decided to obey Christ. Just as Christ obeyed the Father and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross for our sins, Paul gave up his desire for comfort and peace with God in heaven, knowing there was a time coming for that. Paul lay down his life, every day and second of it, to serve Christ by serving the church with God’s Word for the progress and joy of their faith.
So let me ask you again. Why do you wake up each morning? To what end do you live? If you give your days in obedience to Christ, serving Him wherever He takes you, death shall be the sweetest gain and the fulfilment of your hope. You will be able to hear God’s Words, “good and faithful servant”, and you will enter into eternal communion with the one You loved. However, if you give your days to anything else, what would death mean to you?
Pray and resolve with Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Lord, thank You for each new morning and the life You still give to me. Take it all and use every part of it to serve You. Teach me to obey You and follow Christ, who has first loved me. Show me where You want me to serve You, and may my life exist only to fulfil that calling alone. I surrender all my hopes and desires into Your hands. May You be my strength, joy, and source of eternal contentment as I live out this life on earth. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ name, amen.