Don’t Reverse the Bible Verse – Philippians 1

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Don’t Reverse the Bible Verse

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21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Philippians 1:21-24 NIV

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Philippians 1:21 is a verse that far too many Christians live backwards… literally. Paul says, “for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

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It is sad that far too many times we live our lives in the complete opposite direction of Paul’s statement. We live as if the verse says, “for me, to live is gain and to die is Christ.” We think that “for me to live is gain.” We have the idea that we ought to work toward gain in life – we want more stuff, more money, more vacations, and more influence. We keep living our lives to gain as much as we can. We do that until we die, because when we die, we go to be with Jesus Christ. The time to rest will be when we die because we think that “to die is Christ.” We must be committed not to living this key Bible verse in reverse. “To live” Paul says, “is Christ.” “To die” he reminds us, “is gain.”

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It is worth seeing what Paul’s definition of death and life was.

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Paul’s definition of death for the Christ follower:

When he wrote this, Paul was torn because he knew that death did not mean defeat for the Christian. Paul viewed death for a Christian who is giving glory to God, more like a graduation to God’s glory. Too many times Christians view death as a cessation of life rather than a graduation to glory. We think that death is when our time on earth is up we go to “rest in peace,” with Jesus. Paul saw death as the time when he could truly worship God in the glory and presence of Jesus Christ.

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Paul’s definition of life for the Christ follower:

To continue living life, to Paul, meant to continue fruitful labor for the Kingdom of God. Paul lived with absolute confidence that as long as he lived, God intended for him to live a fruitful life. Whether he was preaching in Corinth or chained to a prison guard in Rome, Paul knew that he would bear fruit. It is sad that many Christians have not yet realized with certainty that they will bear fruit for the Kingdom with their lives whatever the circumstances they face.

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To be a Christian with the attitude and mindset of Paul means refusing to allow circumstances to overcome me. Instead every circumstance becomes an opportunity to bring glory to Christ on earth and to win souls to advance the Kingdom. Death is just a graduation to bringing glory to God in a different way.

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As he sat in a cold, lonely prison cell, chained to Roman guards, Paul was torn between two seemingly great options. Death would be a graduation into God’s glory or life, which meant living a fruitful life advancing God’s Kingdom. A guy with Paul’s attitude could not be stopped.

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Can a person with your attitude be stopped?

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Holy Spirit I pray for the tenacity and attitude of Paul to be upon me. Paul was relentless for You Jesus, may I be likewise. Amen.

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