“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” Philippians 21-23 (ESV).
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58)”
The apostle Paul was the “poster child” when it came to living in light of eternity. His life revolved around making the most of his time on earth – don’t believe me? Take a quick look at what Paul had to say to the Philippians: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” PAUSE – Let’s reexamine what Paul just said; “To me to live is Christ…if I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” Paul had no interest in wasting his time or his life – Paul’s sole purpose in life was serving God and making the gospel known to all people (fruitful labor).
He goes on: “My desire is to depart and to be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith…” (Phil. 1:21-25)
Paul did not fear death – “to die is gain.” In fact, Paul greatly desired to depart and to be with Christ, but he knew that God was not done using him yet: “convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress…” What do these few verses show us? 1) Paul was extremely confident in his eternal destiny and 2) Paul’s confidence in his eternal destiny motivated him to help others come to know Christ and develop to their full potential.
Paul did not live his life seeking his own comfort or advancement. Paul’s life revolved around the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, no matter what it cost. Need proof? Take a look at 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 – Paul provides the Corinthians with a list of all the things he had to go through in order to make Christ’s name known (lashed, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, etc).
After reading through this list you may ask yourself: Why? Why would Paul go through all of that? What was his motivation? Because to us, this list seems crazy, ludicrous even. Why would someone continue to go through all of this pain? For Paul, the answer was simple – the gospel. The gospel was Paul’s driving force, his motivation, and the purpose behind his ministry. Paul was happy to embrace the suffering and to count it as all joy, because of the gospel. And this is what Paul was seeking to help the Corinthians understand; that because of the gospel, all of their labor (all of their suffering/work for the ministry) served a purpose, it wasn’t in vain.
Why? Because death has been overcome! Christ defeated death and has made life after death possible for all of those who belong to him! And because Christ defeated death they could be confident that everything that they were doing was preparing for them an eternal weight of glory: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). It all served a purpose.
How does life beyond death motivate you to live your life?
How are you going to make the most of your time?
Over the next week spend some time reflecting on the gospel and the life that has been promised to you as a result of what Jesus has accomplished – what should you be doing in response?
By Ryan Leeds | Dillon, CO