“For me to live is Christ…”—Philippians 1:21

“For me to live is…”

If someone asked you to finish that sentence without much time to think, what would you say?

For me to live is…sports? Shopping? Music? Family? Work? The person I’m in love with? Fill in the blank.

But if I can say in all sincerity “to live is Christ,” then I can follow that bold statement with what comes next: “to die is gain.”

Paul—apostle, missionary, former Pharisee and persecutor of the church—lost a lot before he was able to make such a bold statement. I don’t know if I can say that I always feel like “to die is gain.” I love my life and want to hang onto it and to the people I love.

Paul’s life had been filled with prestige, education, and respect—until he experienced a radical conversion. That’s when his life began to unravel. He became mistrusted, persecuted, reviled, even hated. He developed a physical infirmity, which no amount of prayer healed. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me,” Paul wrote. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

Becoming a Christian made Paul capable of recognizing his weaknesses. He became more honest, vulnerable, and broken—real. He shared freely how difficult, fractured, and broken he was. He had no need to protect his image, or misrepresent who he was.

He set an example for us of how to live at home, in the workplace, in the world. He simply let the Lord work through him as he labored to strengthen and build up people, demonstrating the love of God.

In all this, he was content, happy, and so committed that he could exclaim, “For me to live is Christ!”

He had discovered what it means to be truly alive.

“Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning.” —John Henry Newman