As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I am sure that all of us have a long list of things to be thankful for. If we take the time to “count our blessings” (cf. Ps. 103:2), which we definitely should, we will find an abundance of spiritual and physical blessings to be grateful for (Ps. 103; Eph. 1:1-14). May the Lord cause our hearts to overflow with thanksgiving to Him for His many wonderful and undeserved gifts to us (James 1:17; Eph. 5:20; Col. 3:15-17)!
But as you count your many blessings from God, what are you MOST thankful for? What is your life really about? What makes your life worth living? What makes your life good or bad or successful? What are your greatest regrets from this past year and what are your greatest hopes for the coming year?
Or to put it another way, if you were to fill in these two blanks, what would you (honestly) say?
- For me to live is _______________.
- And to die is _________________.
Let’s hear how the Apostle Paul would have answered this as he wrote from prison to the church in Philippi:
“For to me,
to live is Christ
and to die is gain.”
– Phil 1:21 (NASB)
Is this true of you? Can you honestly say that for you, “to live is Christ”? Is Christ your goal, your passion, your joy, your reason for living? Do you define your life and your death around Christ?
One way to test whether or not this is true is by considering our attitude toward our own death? Do we really view death as gain? How can death possibly be gain? Well, this is where the test comes in. And Paul gives some explanation why death would be gain for him in the latter part of Phil. 1:23, “having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.” Paul understood that death would gain him an even closer walk with Christ!
As Paul considered the prospect of either continuing on in this earth, he spoke of his ongoing life as being characterized by “fruitful labor” for him and that he would be laboring for the Philippian’s sake and that he might help them for their “progress and joy in the faith” (cf. Phil. 1:22-25).
Do you see, if Paul continued living on earth, his life would be consumed with labors for Christ? But if He “departed” (i.e. died) this would be gain to Him because then he would be brought into closer fellowship with His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! His life was defined by Christ: living for Him, loving Him, and serving Him. And this Christ-centered view of life that made all the difference for how he viewed the prospect of death.
So as we take time to consider our many blessings. Let us remember that Christ is by far our greatest blessing! And Christ is in fact the Source and Fountainhead of all of our blessings (cf. Eph. 1:3-14)! In both this life and in the next.
And may we be able to say in all honestly, along with our brother Paul,
For to me,
to live is Christ
and to die is gain!
Happy Thanksgiving brothers and sisters!
In Christ alone,