For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. – Philippians 1:21
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
11 I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
In his best-seller Fully Human Fully Alive, John Powell shows the way to a new beginning of living life the way the Father intended it to be.
“Fully alive people are always thoughtful and reflective. They are capable of asking the right questions of life and flexible enough to let life question them. They do not live an unreflected life in an unexamined world. Most of all, perhaps, these people are alive and well in heart. . .. Their general disposition towards all is one of concern and love.”
“Fully alive individuals have activated imaginations and cultivated senses of humor. They are alive, too, and their emotions. They are able to experience the full gamut and galaxy of human feelings – wonder, awe, tenderness, compassion, both agony, and ecstasy.”
“Fully alive people are those who are using all of their human faculties, powers, and talents. They are using them to the full. These individuals are fully functioning in their external and internal sources. They are comfortable with/and open to the full experience and expression of all human emotions. Such people are vibrantly alive in mind, heart, and will. There is an instinctive fear in most of us, I think, to travel with our engines at full throttle. We prefer, for the sake of safety, to take life in small and dainty doses.’”
Of all of the characters in the Scriptures, perhaps one stands above the rest as being fully alive: the Apostle Paul. He shows us the way.
“His life was one of ongoing bravery and determination. The list of Paul’s sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11 is mind-boggling. If anyone questioned the apostle’s sincerity, he could point to the scar tissue on his face and back. He was willing to suffer for Christ and for others because he loved them.”
“Regarding his people, the Jews, he said, ‘For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers’ (Romans 9:3). To some of his converts he wrote, ‘ . . . my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown’ (Philippians 4:1). He loved deeply and royally.”
“Permeating all was his supreme passion for the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul put everything he had into living (and dying) for Christ. He was alive for Christ!”(Hughes).
REFLECT & PRAY
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done” (Thomas Jefferson).
Father I long to be fully alive in Christ and say from my heart, “To live Christ.” Help me establish and maintain a commitment to Him using all of my human faculties, powers, and talents. Strengthen me to experience the full color and sound of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
“Paul was not afraid of life or death! Either way, he wanted to magnify Christ in his body. No wonder he had joy!” (Wiersbe). Paul had thought through and contemplated the meaning and purpose of life. Paul tells us what both living and dying meant to him. It all boiled down to one simple sentence, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” While Paul lives, he serves and helps others. But when he dies, he gets to be face-to-face with the Lord Jesus Christ. Which, for Paul, is far better. It is a delightful gain. He is actually somewhat ambivalent and torn between the two.
In the original Greek, the phrase is very terse, lacking verbs. The words do not lend themselves to an English translation that captures their forceful significance: to live Christ, to die gain. The literal Greek phrases and translations are below.
to zen Christos – to live Christ, to apothaneins kerdos – to die gain
No doubt, this was the maxim by which Paul lived. But there’s more
“The telescope brings distant things closer, and the microscope makes tiny things look big. To the unbeliever, Jesus is not very big. Other people and other things are far more important. But as the unbeliever watches the Christian go through a crisis experience, he ought to be able to see how big Jesus Christ really is. The believer’s body is a ‘lens’ that makes a ‘little Christ’ look very big, and a ‘distant Christ’ come very close” (Wiersbe).
“Paul’s only reason for existence is that he may spend his life in that glad service, and death for that cause will be the crowning service” (Ralph P. Martin).
“For such people, life has the color and sound of celebration. Their lives are not a perennial funeral procession. Each tomorrow is a new opportunity. There is a reason to live and a reason to die. And with such people come to die, their hearts will be filled with gratitude for all that has been, for ‘the way we were,’ for a beautiful and full experience. A smile was spread throughout their whole being as our lives pass review. And the world will always be a better place, a happier place, and a more human place because they have lived and laughed and loved here” (John Powell).
Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10 “are as forceful an expression of love as any in the Scriptures. This was the driving force of Paul’s noble life” (Hughes).
© Dr. H 2022