What Shall I Choose

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what shall I choose I cannot tell. For I am hard- pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  Philippians 1:21-23

Paul the apostle was arrested in Jerusalem, held in prison in Caesarea for two years until he appealed to Caesar and was brought as a prisoner to Caesar in Rome, in order to appeal his case. While he awaited his appearance before Caesar, he was under house arrest. Where for twenty-four hours a day he was chained to one of the Roman guards. Emperor guards whose chief duty was the protection of the emperor in Rome. For two years these guards were chained to Paul on rotation and Paul saw that as a great witness opportunity. Paul’s life lived in complete surrender to Christ, brought many emperor soldiers to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Quite the spectacle as a revival breaks out in Rome in the palace of Caesar, as Paul was awaiting his appearance before Caesar. But Paul never saw himself as a prisoner of Rome, but rather, as a prisoner of Christ. A bondservant of Christ, and in the will of God even though it brought to him imprisonment. Now the church in Philippi took up an offering for him, a generous offering brought to him by Epaphroditus, who on the way became extremely ill and almost died. But this heart felt love offering was brought to Paul, which became the basis for this letter to the Philippians.

Now I ask you, “What would someone notice about you if they were chained to you twenty-four hours a day?” Paul’s life was examined closely by these Roman elite soldiers, and his life was not dictated by his circumstances, Paul was not living for his own comfort, but that of the comfort of others. He saw the life of Christ, and his suffering as an opportunity to witness the grace of God to others. Where you or I would be tempted to complain by our uncomfortable or certainly unfamiliar circumstances, Paul found contentement, because his contentment came in his relationship to Jesus Christ, and not from his own circumstances. ” My circumstances may change, I may be in tough physical circumstances, but my contentment isn’t in that. My contentment is in Jesus! ” This could be Paul’s stance, and this could also be our stance too, as we look for our contentment in our relationship with Jesus, there, we can learn whatever our condition is to be content.

Now in those days those who refuse to confess that Caesar is Lord, would be put to death. But Paul so identified his life with Christ, that even if it brought the sentence of death, he would not be persueded but also considered this his reward. To me, to live is Christ—Here Paul says, is the center of my existence. My life revolves around Him. Many people today, if asked to fill in the blank : To live is _____,Just what would be written here to fill in this space? So many people feel strongly about many things, but Paul here was not even hesistant in what his priority was, Because he said for me to live is Christ, he can also say, and to die is gain(Phl 1:21). You can’t say that if you are living for anything else. We read in the gospel of Luke, Jesus telling His disciples the true cost of discipleship: “If anyone desires to come after Me,  let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”Luke 9:23-26  Paul grasped this teaching of Jesus that meant to him, self-denial was a common trait of the follower of Christ. And this self-denial lifestyle included a willingness to obey His commandments, serve one another,and suffer—perhaps even unto death, for Christ’s sake. Meaning that for Paul, life is summed up in Jesus Christ; Christ was his reason for being, and even though death would relieve him of earthly burdens and let him focus totally on glorifying God. Paul knew with certainty the only reason to live and remain in this world was to bring souls to the saving knowledge of Christ, and build-up those believers in his reach to do the same.

Hard pressed—The Greek word pictures a traveler on a narrow path, a rock wall on either side allowing him to go only straight ahead. Paul also knew if he died along the way of this, his chosen life from Christ, he would have complete unhindered fellowship with his Lord. Which is far better—Literally ” very much better ” the highest supelative. Yet Paul yielded even this his personal desire to be with his Lord for the necessity of the building of the church, the body of Christ.

Beloved friend, Many people are seeking after Christ, often from life’s difficult circumstances, yet others are content to keep Him at a distance, knowing that the cost to be His follower demands a willingness to surrender your whole heart and life pursuits to follow Him. Either way, what can we do to help others make their decision for Him without being afraid that it will be too costly, or demand from us much unwanted suffering? I believe the answer is in our choice of what or who we will live for. To live is Christ, when we live for Christ, here in this life, then our gain will be our eternal reward which is to be with Him in heaven. Our gain when we breathe our last breath in this life!

May the Lord bless your walk with Him today!



Author: rontrujillo

Married 37 years We have six children. All of whom are adult. Three are married one of them blessed us with three beautiful grandchildren. Retired Firefighter @ Boeing Aircraft 37 years (Formally McDonnell Douglas) Born Again Summer of 1981

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