"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21
This is a powerful statement. Paul is stating both sides of the Christian life. In this one sentence, he puts forth two statements: 1) living is all about Christ and 2) dying is gain. Both parts of this sentence must be true for either to be true.
How can dying be gain?
Dying can only be gain if you truly are living for Christ. If a man does not live for Christ, his death most assuredly will not be to his gain. Far from it. He would experience the loss of all that is good and joyful.
In order to be able to declare that death brings gain, one must be born-again by the Spirit of God. The life lived for worldly gain may bring about temporary pleasures, but will result in an eternal loss. Only the life lived for the glory of God while on this earth can enable a person to live with the assurance that death is gain.
How can life be all about Christ?
In order to say "to live is Christ," one must see death as gain. In this way, both sides of the statement make the other possible. When you see death as truly gain, you are then freed up to live for Christ without any reservation.
Life is all about Christ when you come to the place that you realize heaven offers more than anything death can take. And death takes everything except Christ. Death will take away a person's income, status, title, and worldly possessions. So how can death be gain? By realizing that Christ is greater than everything death takes. It is by viewing life through the lens of eternity that we are strengthened to live this life to its fullest. When you are no longer afraid of what death takes, you are free to live life in total abandonment to Christ.
So, live for Christ, knowing that death is gain
In the end, the Lord will preserve His people even in death. It has been written that God saves us from death, in death, and by death.
The Father, at times, may choose to extend your life and save you from death. He does this to enable you to glorify Him in your life and to prolong your days on earth to make a difference for the Kingdom.
The Spirit, when death does come, save you in death. When a believer approaches his final moments, and heaven is on the doorstep, the Spirit gives us the strength we need at the moment. The grace to die in faith is a gift the Spirit gives in death.
And, the Son saves us by death. In the end, this earth is not our home. Jesus said, "Great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12). Ultimately, our salvation will be realized when we are absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). After the believer dies, he enters his true home -- heaven -- the true citizenship of every Christian (Philippians 3:20).
So, as has been written, the Lord saves us from death, in death, and by death. Knowing this frees each believer to sincerely live for Christ by seeing death as gain. So, live each day for the sake of the gospel. Live without fear and reservation. Then, when your earthly life comes to a completion, you will declare with faith, "To life has been Christ, and now in death, I gain it all."
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