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FOR TO ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN By Dale E. Price

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FOR TO ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN By Dale E. Price Empty FOR TO ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN By Dale E. Price

Post  Admin on Sat 05 Feb 2011, 4:44 pm

FOR TO ME, TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN *
*By Dale E. Price *
*

I eased myself down on the couch in our living room to prepare for my
upcoming Sunday school class. Matt, our seven year old, curled up next
to me as Joshua, our ten year old practiced at the piano. The crackling
fire, the cat perched atop his climbing tree, and the dog at my feet
completed the picture of a perfect family evening. I opened my Bible to
the first chapter of Philippians anticipating Paul's refreshing
perspective on life.

Matt became increasingly interested in my study and began to peer over
my arm at the passage. I asked him to read verses twelve through
eighteen. We talked about Paul's imprisonment and how God was in control
of every circumstance. It was exciting to share how Paul had used the
opportunity to minister to the palace guards and how his example stirred
up the courage of the brethren. Josh, jealous for equal attention,
migrated from the piano to the couch to be with us. I asked him to read
verses nineteen through twenty-seven. We talked about Paul's perspective
on life and death; his desire to be with the Lord and yet his desire to
be of service to the Philippians. We saw how Paul saw death and the
avenue into the presence of the Lord, a gain of incalculable value.

Little eyes were heavy now. The boys were tucked in and kissed good
night after we closed our day in prayer. I returned to the living room
to complete my study. My wife, weary from her heavy load as a student,
had gone to bed early. Our home was comfortable, warm, and quiet on this
wintry evening. As I sat down, Paul's words in verse twenty-one kept
ringing in my mind. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I
meditated on the passage and evaluated my own mind and heart.

What is it for me to live? For Paul his life was inseparable from the
life of Christ. His will was to do Christ's will. What Christ valued,
Paul valued. The members of his body were the members of Christ's. I
recalled Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians and his words that we
who live should no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died and
rose again on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:15). Then my mind turned to Romans
12:1-2 and I found that because of God's manifold grace and mercy I am
to present my body, my mind, my life as a living and holy sacrifice to
God. This is how I am to worship Him. I am not to be conformed to this
world but I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind in order
that I might prove that perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1-2). Was I truly
yielded to His will?

I prayed, "Lord, transform and renew my mind. Cause me to yield to your
perfect will and to allow you to possess all that I have, all that I am."

I now considered the second half of that twenty-first verse, Philippians
chapter one, "and to die is gain." Did I really desire heaven over this
life? Did I see death as gain? I remembered a recent episode with
Joshua. Josh suffers from allergy-induced asthma. As he struggled for
breath late one evening, he gasped, "I wish I was dead." I was shocked
and hurt. How could my son, surrounded by a loving family, experiencing
a happy childhood, wish to be dead. Then I thought of what I teach week
in and week out; heaven is a wonderful place; this life is full of
trouble; when we are absent from this body we will be at home with the
Lord and be physically seated with Him in the heavenlies. My son saw
death as I taught it, as the door into the presence of the living God.
What I thought was his death wish was really a wish for a release from
the sufferings of this life and a longing for the inexpressable joy of
life eternal. I should have rejoiced at the faith of this child.

I prayed, "Lord, transform and renew my mind. Give me the faith of a
child to see beyond the temporary securities of this life. Let me seek
the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Cause me to set my mind on the things above, not on the things that are
on earth. Lord, give me your perspective on life that my hope might not
rest on the things which are seen but on the things which are not seen.

The house was quiet as I moved off toward bed. I realized that God's
Spirit must continually wage war with my flesh for control of my mind.
Yet my spirit was at peace as I claimed His promise that He who had
begun this good work in me would perfect it until the day of Christ
(Phil. 1:6).
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