Paul’s Theme

Philippians 1:21: For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
 
This verse could be called the driving force behind Paul’s life and ministry. He looks here to the present and to the future. I have heard people say that this verse promotes suicide, but nothing could be further from the truth. Paul here is telling us why he does what he does. Remember that Paul lived in an area and time in which his life was in constant danger. His preaching of Christ brought the anger and attacks of the Jews upon him. In Acts 14:19, we see that Paul was stoned and dragged out the city, the people supposing that he was dead. In 2 Corinthians 11, starting in verse 23, Paul tells us of his sufferings and burdens.
 
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
 
Paul was in constant danger, yet continued on. Why? Perhaps our verse could be explained this way – “While I live, I will live for Christ, but if I were to die, I will gain.”
 
There should be no fear of death for the Christian. When our time comes, we get to go to Heaven. The story is told of John R. Rice, who while walking to his hotel one night, a man with a gun tried to rob him. JR Rice replied “you can scare me with Heaven”. That ought to be our attitude as well. That doesn’t mean we should do dangerous things, our tempt death, but we shouldn’t fear it either. 
 
Paul is saying that while he lived, while he was on the Earth, his life was spent for Christ. He focused on the main thing, serving Jesus and others. Yes, he had to work, he had to travel, to eat, to sleep, etc. But his goal was serving Christ. 
Let us take the remainder of the year and make this our theme as well – “For me to live is Christ”.