MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, fill me with your presence today. I pray that your love will overflow through me to those I love this season. May they see you in me.

Read PHILIPPIANS 1:18b-26

18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 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! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 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, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

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Footnotes

  1. Philippians 1:19 Or vindication; or salvation

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Because of the Father’s love for us in Jesus, death will be the gateway into God’s eternal presence.

Think Further

The Russian revolution in 1917 ushered in a wave of communist uprisings which swept the globe and helped shape the history of the 20th century. Yet the reality of communist government failed to live up to the ideals, and much misery resulted. What was needed was a different type of revolution. At least some recognized this. One early communist was overheard saying, ‘I used to read the New Testament. It is the most wonderful story ever told. That man Paul. He was a real revolutionary. I take my hat off to him!’1

Our verses today show us the revolutionary Paul and the New Testament message which made him so thoroughly radical. On one level, what he says is not hard to understand. He is faced with two possibilities: life or death. He believes he will be released because he reckons his work as an apostle is not yet completed. Even so, he is torn (vs 22–24). He longs to be with Christ which is ‘better by far’ (v 23). Ultimately, verse 21 reveals Paul’s heart. He is determinedly focused on Christ.

This may seem simple to understand, but it’s staggering when we truly comprehend it. Can we say the words of verses 21 and 23 along with Paul? Our answer to this question will depend on whether we really believe the gospel as he did. Jesus died and rose again and if you have trusted him, you are eternally secure. Do you really believe this? Sometimes our theology is merely head knowledge. It has not permeated deep within, gripping our whole being. For Paul, biblical theology has so captured his mind and heart that he views all of life and death through a gospel lens. As a result, he lives as a true revolutionary. May God strengthen us to do the same.

Apply

Pause and allow the challenge of this reading to penetrate deeply. Pray for a deeper understanding, so that Paul’s words in verse 23 become your words.

Closing prayer

Lord God, there is not a day in which I don’t experience your blessing. Help me to spend each one wisely for the sake of your kingdom.

Last Updated on December 24, 2023 by kingstar

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