We all know the certainty and reality of death. As a pastor, I have had the honor of walking through death’s valley with many from various backgrounds and beliefs. One thing is certain in this life: the sting of death is inevitable.
For the believer, though, that sting is removed. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting?”
To the Philippians, Paul wrote:
According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:20-21, NKJV)
As Paul faced imprisonment and death, he knew that Christ would be glorified in his dying because he had enjoyed God in his living. The believer is truly victorious in death because he or she has found their greatest satisfaction by enjoying God to the fullest in life.
Oh, the wonderful gains that await the true believer the moment he or she steps from mortality to immortality. The reign and torments of sin are permanently and finally over. Temptation will cease. The sorrows of this world will have passed away like the vapor of smoke that dissipates in the wind. The believer will finally forever be with the Lord, and the Lord will bestow on him or her the rewards and pleasures that have been stored up in heaven. The list of the eternal enjoyments of God in heaven is endless. Truly, the believer is victoriously gainful in death.
Paul doesn’t examine here the benefits of death only: “For to me, to live is Christ.” Both dying and living for the true believer is to gain Christ. The richest enjoyment of this life is only a shadow compared to the gains of enjoying Christ. In this life, He makes heaven sweeter; the doctrines of the Gospel are more delightful; and even the passing enjoyments of this life are more enjoyable with Christ.
So, like Paul, we can truly say–whether I live or whether I die, it is gain for me because I have found my delight in Him.