The challenge that we find in Paul’s words is that death is only gain if, as he says, to live is Christ. Life for Paul was to love Christ and recklessly spend his life for Him. If he drew life from the things of this world – comfort, safety, reputation – then death could be loss for him. In the same way, if we draw life from the things of this world, even good things, then we will find death to be unmitigated loss as all of that which we have spent our lives amassing in this world is taken from us in the final moment we occupy it.
- Paul’s words compel us to evaluate ourselves. Each of us must ask this question: “Is my happiness found in having my circumstances serve me and my desires, or do I rejoice when my circumstances serve Christ and His desires?” Is our goal in life the advancement of our own agenda or the advancement of the Gospel in the world and the blessing of the people around us?
- We are called then to repent and turn away from the idea that we will draw life from the things of this world – our marriages, families, wealth, reputations, etc. – and believe instead that Jesus is enough. As we find life in Christ, we engage with Him in Scripture, pursue Him alongside others in community and in prayer, and serve Him with our lives.
- Lastly, this passage leads us to number our days and live in the shadow of death. We must acknowledge that this world is a temporary one and draw near to Christ, much like King David in Psalm 39: “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is … We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing … And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”