TO DIE IS GAIN
2 Corinthians 7 | 2 Samuel 14
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
If we were to meet someone who talks about dying and wishing their life to end, we would be concerned. Most of us think about death in terms of loss and suffering for those we leave behind. Ironically, we only know how to live life to its fullest when we know how to face death. The Apostle Paul is sublimely content with life, despite his sufferings and he writes to the Philippians to say that although life means fruitful labour for him, he would actually prefer to die! “Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:22-24).
In this statement, Paul has turned on its head the natural view of death that says, “When it strikes, it’s over, it’s final! Curtains!” In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he asks the question at one stage, “To be or not to be”. That is, ‘to live or not to live’. ‘We are subject to the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to and have fallen prey to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. So his big question is ‘To be (to live) or not to be (not to live)?’ In contrast to Hamlet, who fears death may even be worse than life, Paul actually enjoys both life and the prospect of death. Living is wonderful because his reasons and resources are found in the Lord Jesus Christ. But to die is to be with Christ, which is better by far. Once we’re in heaven, it isn’t going to matter whether we died at 30 or 90 because this mortal life is only preamble to our final, glorious destination with Christ. Paul puts it very simply, “To die is gain.”
As Christians, to live is Christ, and when the reality of death faces us, we share in the remarkable assurance of Paul... ‘that to die is gain’. The Christian life is permanent. It extends beyond this life with all its pressures into the glorious prospect of eternal pleasures forevermore. How can we lose? By His resurrection, Christ has already defeated death, and we can happily live without fear because in Jesus Christ, our life is eternal.
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I am reminded of something King David wrote: “What is man that you are mindful of him?” You have even taken the sting of death away, and given us assurance of life beyond death. I am grateful for your love and grace. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for your life in me.
TO REFLECT UPON: Has there been a time when I have feared the impending death of a loved one or even of myself? How did I cope with it? Knowing what I know now, how would that change and what would I tell others facing a similar situation?