Summary: Summary: When Christ is our Lord and Savior, life is found in living or dying. Philippians 1:18-30 September 18, 2011
To Live or Die, That Is the Question
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth, O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth.”
“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”
Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written at the time of his imprisonment in Rome. The letter begins with the greeting and salutation that we have become accustomed to see in Paul’s letters. In our text we encounter Paul’s most intimate thoughts about life and death.
In verse 23 Paul states,” I am hard-pressed from both directions having a desire to depart and be with Christ… Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” As Paul is sitting in prison you get the feeling that he’s looking back at his ministry and wondering if things could’ve been different or should he have done things differently.
Many of us here today can relate to these feelings as we grow closer to God and closer to others. We strive for happiness in our lives not fully understanding that Jesus in the key. John Wesley in his sermon Works, Sermon 45 wrote, “It is not possible in the nature of things that a person should be happy who is not holy.”
For Paul and for Wesley happiness is equated to having a heart and mind which is shared with Christ.
For many life-and-death are conflicting processes. Joseph Epstein once said, “we do not choose to be born, we do not choose our parents, or the country of our birth. We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within the realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.”
Linda Ellis the author of the poem, The Dash, writes about the struggle as it relates to how we live day-to-day. Ellis writes:
“…the dash between the years of birth and death as being the most important time. For it is the – that we lived and touched the lives of others. She concludes the poem with the following question: so when you eulogy is being read your life’s actions to rehash, when you been proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?”
Life or death awaits everyone on a daily basis. Daniel 5:23 tells us that “God holds our breath in his hands.” Ultimately, we must recognize that God is his control. Paul knew this and we find him in the text today always ready to live or to die. We too, need to be ready to live or die.