A person who dies faithful in the Lord has great gain. My attitude must be that whether I live or die, Christ is gain to me. Paul’s theme for living and for dying was, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
Our sole aim for living must be to glorify God through Jesus Christ, both in life and in death. In our life we should imitate Jesus. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
True happiness is found as we live our life with Jesus and for Jesus; this happiness is also found as we die in the Lord. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
Our goal should be to know as much of Christ as we possibly can. Paul’s desire was “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:10) No Christian, when he comes to die, will regret that he has lived unto Christ. There will be many regrets for those who live and die without Christ. Christ was both the beginning and ending of life for Paul.
Paul’s surrender to the Lord: From the time Paul met the Lord on the Damascus Road until his death, the Lord was his everything.If Christ was taken out of his life there would have been nothing left. A devout man named Ananias was sent by God to Saul (Paul) to ask, “Why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16) He arose from baptism to walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4) The Savior became the motivating force in his entire life. From the Damascus Road until his last breath his life continued as an honor to God.
Death for Paul was far better, not dreadful or tragic. Paul spent some of the last part of his earthly life in a Roman Prison. There he realistically faced the prospect of death. As he considered living and dying he was faced with two desires. “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:23-24) Death for Paul meant that he was moving toward that goal that Christ had set for him. For the unbelieving and unfaithful death is the beginning of eternal damnation. For the faithful child of God death is the beginning of eternal life.
Our greatest desire must be a desire to depart and be with the Lord. There are many words and expressions used in the Bible for “death.” Sleep, earthly tent dissolved, absent from the body and breath goeth forth are some of the expressions for death that are used in the Bible. No term, which is used for death in the Bible, is more vivid than the term “to depart.” Physical death does not destroy our life. Life continues in a different form after this earthly journey has ended. We simply depart from this life to life’s other side. Our greatest desire should be that when we depart this life we can go to be with the Lord. Those who die right with the Lord have a wonderful reward. When our life on earth is over we will leave behind our earthly tent and move on to our heavenly home. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) When it comes our time to move on let us make sure that we are right with God!
Are you ready for death and judgment? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ’s saving blood by being baptized into His death. John said, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12) We join with Paul in saying, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”