To Live is “More Than” Christ

As a pastor, I study the life of the apostle Paul quite a bit. When I have looked into what is known as the epistle of joy, Philippians, I have been very convicted in the last few weeks. What I love about this man the most is that his love for Christ and others just seemingly gushes out of him. He was the real deal. His love for others was the real thing. Philippians 1:15-21 is a sincere reflection of his heart.

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

This wasn’t a speech. He just really loved Jesus. He says, “I am in jail but people are preaching Christ. This is what I want.” There were people that were jealous of him and were telling others that preaching Christ in the way that Paul does will lead you to end up in jail like he was at the time. Paul doesn’t care. He is stating, “You don’t get it. I am fine in jail. I will suffer just like Jesus suffered. I want to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings as much as in the power of His resurrection. I don’t care what motives these people have, they can have the darkest hearts possible; I just rejoice that they are preaching Christ! That’s all I really care about, the gospel.” This is remarkable. I mean his whole life all he wanted was for people to know Jesus.

I was reading verse 21 the other day, and the Holy Spirit just caused a holy hush to come over me. I want to camp out there for a few moments. I want you to get this. Paul says, “I don’t care if I live or die in this jail cell. I care about one thing, Christ is honored and if it means me dying & He is honored, so be it!

Again, “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” “Look folks, all I care about is Christ so if I am to be alive on this earth, great, I will tell people about Jesus. If I die, that’s great too because I will actually get to be with Christ. Don’t you understand Christ is all I care about?” What floors me is that he actually means this. He didn’t memorize this at Awana’s. What I have been praying for those I minister to in the last few weeks is just simple honesty.

Can you look at that verse with me today and be honest? If you look at that verse 21 & that’s not you just be honest with the Lord and say, “That’s not me. For me living is when my family and I are on vacation and everyone is healthy, and I can go home to a house that is nice. Living for me is having my retirement all set up and knowing my next few years. That’s living! And oh yeah, Jesus and being a part of the church and having great friends.”

I just want us all to be honest. We are so used to lying to one another we can’t even be honest sometimes. We even pray lies sometimes.  “God for me to live is You,” and God is like, “Give me a break right now. I know your heart. You spend 99% of your money in a year on yourself.” Can we all be honest and raw and say, “God I love a lot of things right now and living for me is more than You.” He already knows that. Just say, “God I want to be surrendered.”

For me, there have even been times in my life where I didn’t even want to die and see Jesus. I didn’t even think to die was gain. So I just told Him. “God this stinks, but I don’t want to die because I don’t think You are better than what I have here on earth. God, I know that is wrong, and I want You to change my heart.”

“God, I know my friends aren’t going to heaven, but I just really don’t love them that much to say something because I am more concerned with what they will think of me, and I care more about our friendship than I care about my friend.” Just tell Him. He already knows.

Just say it. Just quit lying. This is the first step to actually becoming more like Christ. Gut-level honesty. And how liberating it is to live this way.

What would happen if this verse were true for all of those who follow Christ?