Lord, this week we are remembering Your life and death on this Earth. We recall how You humbled Yourself and allowed humans to beat You and murder You, all for our sake. You came down and died for the sake of our lives. Help me to respect and honor what You have done. Help me to place the story about Your death, burial, and resurrection above all things. Help me to see life as a source of producing fruit for You and death as a blessing because it means I am with You. Correct my motives and desires. Amen.
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;
These verses show a value system that isn’t normal for most today. Yesterday we talked, in our sermon, about how many people have a shallow walk with Christ. We discussed how this is manifested in their abundance or lack of proclaiming Christ and the Gospel. These verses are a deeper look at someone’s (Paul) value of their relationship with Christ. Paul not only cherishes his relationship with the Lord but SO much so that he states that if he remains alive it is solely for the purpose of being fruitful for Christ. Yet if he dies he will be WITH Christ and he values that just as much. So in a world where everyone is fearful of death and overly obsessed with their own pleasure and desires Paul states that if he lives it is based on Christ and if he dies it is good because he sees Christ. This is the polar opposite of most people!
In a time when so many people are concerned about dying from the Covid-19 virus we hear people talking about it all the time. In fact Saturday Jan said someone told her “it’s better than the alternative” (talking about living in this crisis verse dying from the disease). She responded with something along the lines of, “Not for me!” That’s the beauty of what we, and Paul, have. We do not need to be fearful of death because it holds even more beauty than life!
Paul is explicit about his values and how deeply passionate he is about God and what God has done. So the challenge deepens: this holy week can you say that you not only cherish your relationship with Christ but that it is the MOST important thing in your life? Can you say that your life is committed to “fruitful labor”? Can you say that you are not fearful of death and actually welcome it since it means you’ll be with Christ?
I am not perpetuating a desire to DIE… what I am proposing is a corrected value system that holds a walk with Christ in fruitfulness above all other things in life and consequently holds death as a gift since it places us with Him. Other’s found such great value in God and His certain Word… So what are you waiting for? It is possible, and others have found it, why don’t you pray for that same demeanor?
God help me to correctly value a fruitful walk with You. Help me to view walking with You as the most valuable thing in life. Furthermore help me to have no fear over death as it is simply our path to being in Your presence. In a time like this, when fear is abounding, help me to find comfort in my relationship with You. Amen.
I guarantee you have at least one friend who doesn’t value Christ how they should. In fact, if you are a parent, you have kids who likely don’t. Use this week to pray for God’s guidance in how to spur others on to truly value Christ’s gift. That may mean you need to pray for Him to fix your value system first. So take this week to pray for this provision and actively focus on motivating others to value Him.