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To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain Philippians 1:21
“TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST.” He is the giver of life. By His will I live, and by His will I shall die. He is the sum and substance of life. Without Him this worldly sojourn would be miserable. He is the hope of eternal life. He has prepared the place and us for the place and will come again to receive us “unto Himself”, to be with Him and to be like Him.
“AND TO DIE IS GAIN.” I will gain release from this natural body of weakness, pain, and discomfort to a perfect body of strength and youth. I will be released from a sinful nature of shame, fear, and flesh to holy, sinless perfection - incorruptible and undefiled! Ignorance, doubts, and misunderstandings shall all be done away, and “I shall know as I have been known of Him.” Nor more trials, troubles or sorrows; and no more death; unbroken fellowship and joy with our family of faith! Oh, the joy and peace in God’s tomorrow!
“FOR I AM IN A STRAIGHT BETWIXT TWO.” I am hard pressed between these two thoughts - either to live and labor (which may be better for you and those who benefit from my labor of love) or to die and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. If it is the will of God to live longer or to depart, it is not mine to choose. The decision is His and is both wise and good, whatever it be. “Lord, give me the grace to accept either way with wisdom and submission.”
“It is not death to die
To leave this weary road,
And, with our family on high
To be at home with God.
Saviour, Thou Prince of Life,
Your chosen cannot die;
We but leave a world of strife
To reign with Thee on High.”
- Henry Mahan
COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY
Many of God's children get on very well so long as they have no trials. They follow Christ very tolerably in the time of fair weather. They fancy they are trusting Him entirely. They flatter themselves they have cast every care on Him. They obtain the reputation of being very good Christians.
But suddenly some unlooked-for trial assails them--Their property makes itself wings and flies away. Their own health fails. Death comes up into their house. Tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word. And where now is their faith? Where is the strong confidence they thought they had? Where is their peace, their hope, their resignation? Alas, they are sought for and not found. They are weighed in the balances and found lacking. Fear and doubt and distress and anxiety break in upon them like a flood, and they seem at their wits' end. I know that this is a sad description. I only put it to the conscience of every real Christian, WHETHER IT IS NOT CORRECT AND TRUE.
The plain truth is that there is no literal and absolute perfection among true Christians, so long as they are in the body. The best and brightest of God's saints is but a poor mixed being. Converted, renewed, and sanctified through he be, HE IS STILL COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY! There is not a just man upon earth that always does good and sins not. In many things we all offend. A man may have true saving faith and yet not have it always close at hand and ready to be used (Eccles. 7:20; James 3:2).
I beseech every reader of this to remember this. It is a lesson worth attention. The apostles believed in Christ, loved Christ, and gave up all to follow Christ. And yet you see in this storm the apostles were afraid. Learn to be charitable in your judgment of them. Learn to be moderate in your expectations from your own heart. Contend to the death for the truth that no man is a true Christian who is not converted and is not a holy man. But allow that a man be converted, have a new heart, and be a holy man, and yet be liable to infirmity, doubts, and fears. - J.C. Ryle