Philippians 1:21 “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
The Apostle Paul experienced more problems in life than most – in 2 Corinthians 11 it explains just a few, he was imprisoned; beaten; stoned; shipwrecked; in danger; he endured many sleepless nights; hungry and thirsty… yet as he writes letters to the churches, he is full of joy.
He has every reason not to be joyful, but he demonstrates that true happiness is not linked to whatever is happening on the outside, it’s a choice you make on the inside.
In v27 Paul says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Right here Paul removes every exception and exemption that you might think up!
But there was a reason that enabled Paul to carry this perspective – he always focused on the Lord’s purpose rather than the prevailing problems.
Paul says“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul has everything taken from him, his freedom, friends, privacy, and ministry – but there is one thing they cannot take from him, his purpose! Paul’s purpose was to serve God by serving people – and nothing could stop him from doing that, even when in prison.
There is a little secret to happiness here, a ‘happiness hint’…
“Happiness does not come by ‘helping yourself,’ it comes by ‘helping others.’”
Most people are unhappy because they think happiness comes through self-gratification, by focusing solely on themselves and if they can get more possessions, more pleasure, position, on and prestige, then they will be fulfilled in life. But it’s not true:
“Self-gratification is not the way to Happiness; it’s Self-sacrifice.”
Jesus says“Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way to saving yourself, your true self”. (Mark 8:35 MSG)
Jesus is giving you some insight into life – ‘Happiness comes through service. Hopelessness comes through selfishness.
Paul says: “For me to live is Christ.”
The World says:
- “For me to live is money” – but people with a lot of money are still unhappy.
- “For me to live is Success” – but people with a lot of success are still unhappy.
- “For me to live is fame, status, power” – but people with all these are still unhappy.
Now, there may be nothing wrong with any of these things, but none of them deserve first place in your life. Only Jesus deserves the first place because of what He did for you on the cross.