I have always had a hard time understanding this week’s “Bible Verse of the Week”.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 (NKJV)
I mean seriously, to live is good. To die is good. So why not do both?
So many people have tried to explain this verse to me, especially since the release of Sidewalk Prophets song, “To Live is Christ”. You can watch the video for the song here.
I still didn’t get what the verse was saying. So I did what I always do when I get stumped…I research my brains out! Please tell me I’m not the only one!
First I looked at a few different translations. If you’ve never done this, you should. Sometimes you can get so much information just by reading the same words a different way. For example The Message says the same verse like this,
Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
Or maybe you’d like to read it in the NLT,
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
Each translation says the exact same thing, but each one says it a little different. Honestly you should check out all the different translations when you are having a hard time understanding a particular verse.
It helps tremendously.
The next thing I do, if I still can’t grasp it, is read the verses around what I’m trying to understand. So for this verse, I went ahead and read all of chapter 1 of Philippians with the main focus being verses 20-26. Here it is in the NLT:
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.
OK. So it makes a little more sense. It is basically saying what I was thinking all along.
To live is good. To die is good. So why not do both?
Well, we can’t do both. At least not at the same time.
Then one day, a few years back, God made it all make sense to me. I said to a friend, “I’m not ready to die, there’s still so much work to be done, so many souls to save so I can see them in heaven.” Never had I wished to stay alive before that day. All I wanted to do before that was spend eternity with my Savior.
I was at a different part of my walk with Christ, the part where I wanted to do EVERYTHING for Him, for His sake and for the sake of others to know Him and all He has to offer. I’m not saying I didn’t do things FOR Christ BEFORE that day…it was just different.
Each one of us has our very own walk with Christ.
My walk is no better than yours nor is it worse than yours, but it is mine and not yours. I’m going to learn some things before you and you will learn some things before me. The important thing for each of us is that we all keep learning and growing, because none of us are with our maker yet!
Which gets me back to the dying part of this weeks verse. When we die, so long as we are saved, we get to see our Maker, our Savior, our Father, our God face to face. We get to talk one on one with Him like we never have before.
On that day, nothing else is going to matter. We aren’t going to care whether we have enough money to pay our bills. It isn’t going to matter if we have the right job, right schooling, right clothes, right house or even the right car. We aren’t going to be thinking about what social group we are or are not a part of. Our physical limitations and pains are not going to even cross our mind the day we get to see Jesus.
I can’t even tell you what that day will be like. I’m pretty sure it will be NOTHING like I’ve ever seen or felt. It will be unforgettable. I’m excited for that day to come whether it’s tomorrow or 100 years from now.
Living, we get to share the greatness of our God so others can join us in heaven. Dying, we get to see God face to face. In my books, both are winners.
Living is good. Dying is good. So why not do both?
As you go about your day today, in fact, as you go about your day every day, question yourself…are you living for God, are you dying to see God, or are you both?