“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Here’s a great test of your faith: What are you living for? What are your biggest aspirations in life?
If it is anything other than “Christ” you are off. Obviously, “to live is Christ” can look different for different people. Paul is not calling us all to mimic everything he has done, go to all the places, write all the same stuff and talk to all the same people, etc.
Many gifts in the One Body. Here is how you test your life direction, follow it with the second part of this verse. Does it make sense? For example:
“For to me to live is saving a million dollars and to die is gain.”
How is dying going to gain you anything toward that goal?
“For to me to live is gardening and to die is gain.”
How does dying bring gardening gains?
“For to me to live is leadership and to die is gain.”
In other words, if your life direction is based on earthly power, prestige, or gain of anything earthly, dying is not going to gain anything in that direction. However, if what I’m doing is for Christ, heaven, eternity dying will only benefit me and bring me great gain!
Cool. Thanks to G. Campbell Morgan for the idea.
People often joke that some Christians act on the premise “if you’re laughing you must be sinning.”
Although I wouldn’t go that far, I would throw out a caution that if your flesh is totally enjoying something, odds are, you’re in pretty good sin mode.
At the same time, if you are not fully enjoying what you are doing, odds are you’re getting pretty close to spiritual activity.
I have heard many times people make assumptions that since I’m a pastor I must really like serving people, visiting people, studying, praying, working with kids, etc.
Now I will say this, I enjoy these things more than I used to, but still, much of my flesh is in outright rebellion while partaking in these activities. The idea that “spiritual” people absolutely love doing spiritual things and that’s why they should do them, is goofy.
This usually gets taken further that “I will wait until I enjoy these things before I do them.” Good luck on that one.
Doing spiritual things is a struggle for anyone’s flesh I don’t care how many gifts you have or don’t have. The Bible tells us what is right and we are supposed to do it whether we find it enjoyable or not. Period. The end.
“The man who does as he likes is the greatest slave. The man who never does as he likes is God’s free man.”
–G. Campbell Morgan
It bugs me that leadership get so much attention in supposed “Christian” circles. We are sheep following our Great Shepherd. There should be more books on following than on leading.
But alas, new leadership books come out each week telling us the REAL secret to leading idiots.
Matthew 23 blasts religious types and particularly their head honchos. Jesus warns them to not desire special treatment as bigwigs, not even special names. We all jump on the Catholics on this one as Jesus clearly says not to be called “father.”
But lets go ahead and jump on evangelicals too.
“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”
This is the only time this Greek word for “masters” is used in the New Testament. It means a guide, or, ah-hem, leader. In fact, look at the NASB, “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”
The verses continue to say to seek out humility and serving, not leading people. If only we actually did what God said. And don’t fall for this “servant leadership” garbage either. Doing stuff for others so I can control them is hardly what Jesus has in mind.
“How can you sit idly by while the world falls apart?”
Well, God is.
God seems to let things play out, run their course without intervening to stop genocide, human trafficking, abortion or many other ills. God said to Abraham “the sin of the Amorites is not yet full.” There’s more sin they need to be allowed to do.
Revelation tells unjust people to keep being unjust and righteous people to keep being righteous.
God’s wisdom on this issue is way past ours and yet how arrogant we assume we are with our ability to stop sins even God does not stop.
The job of the man of faith is to sound the alarm, to give the warning. The man of faith is never told to make people stop doing things. He is never told to freak out at the awful condition of our world. We speak the truth and show the love of Christ to the neighbor nearest us at the moment.
The sin of the world will continue until God puts an end to it. Be more concerned about the sin of your own life and your faithfulness in carrying out God’s Word. Fear not, God still runs the joint.
Theology can be a very tacky subject. It gets down into the nitty-gritty, dealing with Greek and grammar and big words with intricately worded definitions. Some people avoid this stuff because it seems as if it only brings argument and disagreement.
I understand that and I agree. At the same time, it has to be done. Although it may appear that we are spending way too much time addressing a minor detail of a “minor” doctrine, one slip up in one spot can have disastrous effects in other places.
If you switch one detail of your understanding of say, the old and new nature, it can lead to a change in your view of sanctification, justification, the work of Christ, the divinity of Christ, the relation with Adam, indwelling sin, etc. It changes everything just because you slipped up on one “minor” point.
Therefore, it is necessary to examine things, to get into the nitty-gritty and figure out truth. One drop of leaven can spoil the whole loaf. It’s amazing how quickly error can spread and how quick the flesh seems to be in picking it up and running with it.
I understand this may not be for everyone and I get why it makes people uncomfortable, but don’t forget the necessity of testing the spirits.
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
1 Corinthians 11:19
Do we want heaven or do we want the God of heaven?
Is God enough for your heaven, or do you want your dog there too?