For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (ESV)
For me to live is __________. How do you finish that sentence? Depending on who you talk to you might get a whole lot of different answers. For many of us we would say, "For me to live is the pursuit of a career. We strive to reach the top of whatever corporate ladder that we are on. We kick and fight others along the way. Maybe we have even achieved our goal of being at the top. Is it worth it?
Consider those who finish the sentence, "For me to live is a struggle." There are some who have born with a physical handicap that only know struggle every day of their lives. Others deal with crippling depression and anxiety. We foolishly think them lazy when they have a hard time getting out of bed, but for them the fear and sadness is a reminder of their particular vulnerabilities.
We could go on thinking about different ways to finish that sentence. I love the way that Paul finishes it. "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." This was more than a trite saying meant to inspire others who were struggling. This was his life motto. He knew that life was a fleeting thing. True life was only found in Christ. And once that purpose was established it enabled him to enjoy that life with no fear of death. Death only meant the full reality of being with Christ, his life.
I knew a woman who made this verse her life motto. Her name was Laura Ditello. She is my wife's late grandmother. A godly mother of 9 children, she immigrated to the United States from Italy. No matter what her circumstances she would say, "To live is Christ" in broken English. It was said of her that if you knew one who was sick they should ask Laura to pray for them because God listened to her. What a legacy. What a life. What a motto.
How do you finish the sentence, "For me to live is __________."? Wealth and power are fleeting. Circumstances can be crippling. But Christ offers life, and life eternal. For me? To live is Christ!