For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
Most scholars believe that Paul wrote this letter to the church located in Philippi while he was under house arrest in Rome. In this letter, Paul encourages the believers at Philippi to embrace a spirit of unity by adopting the attitude of humility that Jesus Himself manifested. Paul writes this letter to encourage the church because heresy and disunity caused by false teachings and personal conflicts endangered the church and it’s ministry.
In the above text, Paul begins with a statement that non-believers and young believers find very puzzling: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul is saying that if he goes on living, every aspect of his life would continue to be meaningful and fruitful for Christ. In the same way, his death would be “gain” since it would usher him into Christ’s presence. Only someone with a deep abiding faith and an intimate relationship with Christ could write such things. Concerning this text, J.V. McGee writes, “Although it has taken me a long time to arrive at this conclusion, I am convinced that the most important thing in my life as a Christian is to have the reality of Jesus Christ in my life. This is not to popular today.”
It is clear from this text that Paul is torn between wanting to go be with the Lord or to stay and continue to serve Him here on earth. It seems that we all want to go to heaven, but not right now! Paul realized that he still had work to do as long as he was able, but he truly looked forward to that day when he would see Jesus face to face.
Paul then encourages the Philippians to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” Here Paul reminds the church of it’s higher citizenship in heaven. He is instructing the believers in Philippi to live their lives in such a way that Christ would be honored, and the Gospel would be validated.
Then Paul encourages them to “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” Here, Paul’s primary concern is that the believers should have a unified attitude as they participate in each other’s lives. When the church is united, it can withstand the attacks of the Deceiver! When the church is united, it does not have to fear those who would oppose it. Together as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to maintain a courageous witness as we face opposition to our faith.
Questions to Ponder
Can you say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”? Is your life fruitful for the cause of Christ? In what ways does your life honor Christ? How do you deal with opposition to your faith? What can you do to foster unity at Oak Pointe Church?
- Pour out your affections to our Faithful Friend, Father and Redeemer, rightly Hedeserves all of our worship and all of our hearts. Fix your eyes on Him and tell Him in your own words how much you love Him.
- Allow His kindness to draw you into His safe heart of compassion and forgiveness asHis Holy Spirit reveals any sin, broken fellowship, anything done, thought or spoken that is grieving the Holy Spirit. Tell Abba you’re sorry and receive His merciful kindness that forgives (and forgets) wholeheartedly. Thank Him for the blood of Jesus Christ that washes all of us clean/white as snow.
- Ask Abba to grant you a greater desire to know Him better in the place of His word andprayer. Ask Him to help you to remember the Apostolic Prayers of Paul and to pray them back for yourself and our church family.
- Pray we will be led by the Holy Spirit and speak the Word of God courageously and fearlessly, compelled by Christ’s love.
Yahweh, Prince of Peace, Eternal Father, I thank You Lord for every family member at Oak Pointe Church and surrounding churches. God I lift myself and all of them up into Your throne room of grace and I am asking that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we all may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.
Lord, we also ask that each one of us will conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. I ask that we stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who may oppose us. In the Name of Jesus Christ I ask, amen.