For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
A third benefit of a positive purpose is that it has the power to give us joy in an uncertain future. In Philippians 1:19-21, Paul said, “I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In other words, Paul was saying, “I don’t know how my situation is going to turn out, but either way, I will be fine.”
Most scholars believe that at the time he wrote this passage, Paul was waiting to hear whether he was going to be pronounced innocent or guilty. He was waiting for the verdict that would determine whether he would live or die. He didn’t know how his circumstances were going to turn out. Have you ever had the experience of waiting for the results of a medical test like a biopsy? Waiting forty-eight hours can seem like eternity. Now think about Paul. He was waiting week after week, month after month, over the course of two years to determine whether he was going to live or die.
And what did he say? He said, “I am joyful regardless of what happens.” He was saying, “I know I’m going to be delivered. Either I will be delivered out of this prison, or I will be delivered out of this life to meet Jesus Christ. But I win either way. If I live here on earth, that gives me more time to preach Christ. If I die, that gives an opportunity for people to be encouraged to share the gospel. Either way, I win.”
When you have a purpose in your life that is bigger than your own peace, your own sense of well-being, it provides you joy regardless of what your future holds.
What is it you are really living for? Your answer to that question will reveal how you respond to unwelcome circumstances, unfair criticism, and an uncertain future. Somebody has said, “If for me to live is money, then to die is to leave it all behind. If for me to live is fame, then to die is to be quickly forgotten. If for me to live is power and influence, then to die is to lose both. But if for me to live is Christ, then to die is gain.” That’s the joy you and I can have when we understand the power of a positive purpose.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of a Positive Purpose” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.