For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
Here is the dilemma with which Paul seemed to have faced: If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (Philippians 1:22-24 ESV) He concluded that he would live a while longer and that for him to live was Christ.
When Paul said that for him to live is Christ, I believe he was saying, “Whatever life I have left, whatever I do with my time and whatever I put my strength into belongs to Christ; I am his possession, he is the chief object for which I live” (1 Corinthians 6:20). He wrote to the Galatians, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV) Paul seemed to be saying that Christ was the supreme object of his affection and his sole aim was to glorify Christ (Philippians 1:20).
Paul’s passion was to be fully acquainted with Christ for which he counted everything he had gained as lose (Philippians 3:7). Again he told the Galatians, But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 ESV) He modeled the lifestyle of Christ so others could see how Christ lived and have an example of how they too should live (2 Thessalonians 3:9). Paul bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus, he shared in Christ’s sufferings (Galatians 6:17; Philippians 3:10).
Jesus said, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24 ESV) To demonstrate that Christ is the chief focus of our lives, the supreme object of our affection and that our soul aim is to glorify him we must count all we have as nothing to know and follow him. We must be obsessed with a passion to live by his commandments and pattern our lives after his (John 14:15). We must not be at all ashamed of knowing Christ or ashamed of his gospel (Mark 8:38; Romans 1:16). We must be willing to share in his sufferings (2 Timothy 1:8).
Later is his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote that Christ Jesus made himself nothing, took on the form of a servant and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. And he exhorted the Philippians believers to have that same mind which was theirs in Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). Indeed, this mind and life will be the fruit produced by those who say, “For me to live is Christ.”
Is your life all Jesus all the time? Do you hold back part of your life for yourself?
Scriptures for meditation:
2 Corinthians 1:5
1 Peter 4:13