Paul gives here one of the main themes of the letter; rejoicing in the gospel no matter what the circumstances. This kind of joy is not blind, naïve, or in denial about the suffering in the world. It is joy that finds its confidence in the fact that God’s purposes will triumph in the end. Paul’s joy is evident, even as he faces a personal dilemma. He considers the possibility of death by Roman execution, and wonders which is better: remaining on earth to labor for Christ or dying and being with Christ. Either way, since Paul values Jesus above all things, Christ will be honored. When we are consumed with a passion for the person and purposes of Jesus Christ, neither life nor death can destroy our joy; both are opportunities to demonstrate that Jesus is our ultimate treasure.
Questions for further thought:
1. If presented with the option, which would you choose: To live is Christ or to die is gain?
2. What is your reason for your answer to question #1?
Challenge: Ask God to give you such an awareness of the supreme value of Jesus that nothing can threaten your joy. Pray that Christ would be so satisfying that it could be said that, for you, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
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