For to me to live is Christ,
and to die is gain.
This verse is often sung, often used on social media, and often quoted when someone is facing a dilemma, well, it doesn’t matter how it works out because, you know, for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain, so you know, doesn’t matter what happens.
Is that what Paul intended though? When verses begin with ‘for’, we need to look back because something is being referenced. Paul is saying, in light of his possible martyrdom, that his hope is that Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or by death. So, v.21 is actually a paraphrase and explanation of the end of v.20.
For you and for me today, the fact that Paul talks about his physical death as gain is reassuring and comforting. Upon physical death, an orthodox interpretation of the Bible would say that believers are immediately taken to be in the presence of the Lord (for a more detailed insight, click here).
All that to say that for you, believer, the end of your physical life is not to be feared. We don’t need to chase it down, but we don’t need to run away from it either, because to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Is that liberating, invigorating, and energising? You need not fear what the future holds for you because you know what the Lord God Almighty has said about you and your future through the words of Scripture and His Son;
You are known.
You are loved.
I am with you now.
I will be with you for all of your tomorrows.
When those are over, you will be with me for all of mine, which are endless.
Friends, don’t live in fear over what the future holds for you, because to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
“What Happens When I Die?”