Choosing Joy When It’s Life and Death

by

From the Series: Choosing Joy

We live in a world obsessed with death. It’s the world of The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, and Night of the Living Dead. There’s even a sort of reality show on television called 1,000 Ways to Die that features all the bizarre ways people can lose their lives.

We’re all at least a little afraid of it. Why? Two thoughts go through our heads when we think about death, depending on what our relationship with God looks like:

  • I’m not prepared. I’m unsure of my destination.
  • I’m not finished. I’m unsure if I’ve fulfilled my purpose.

Paul had a shocking approach to both life and death.

Philippians 1:20-30 NRSV

[20] It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. [22] If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. [23] I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; [24] but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. [25] Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, [26] so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. [27] Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, [28] and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. [29] For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well- [30] since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

He basically says, “If I live, I can honor Christ.” What a sense of purpose! But then he says, “If I die, EVEN BETTER!” Wow.

He said, “I WANT to live and I WANT to die, and I’m not sure which I want more.”

How do life and death become meaningful?

We learn to value life.

  • My life can bear fruit. (v. 22)
  • My life can influence others. (v. 25)
  • My life can honor God. (v. 26)

We learn to appreciate death.

We can appreciate death because, for a believer, it means instantly being in the presence of Jesus Christ forever.

We get a new perspective on suffering.

We can actually suffer graciously, the way that Christ did.

Three keys to suffering graciously…

  • Understand the message it sends. (v. 28a)
  • Look forward to ultimate deliverance. (v. 28b)
  • See suffering as identification with Christ. (v. 29)

Paul closes by pointing out that his situation was really no different than that of the Philippians, nor is it different than our situation today. It’s simply this… every day, we make a choice to value life, to make it meaningful. Or, we make a choice to waste it and become bitter. What’s going to be your choice today? To begin a relationship with Christ and make life meaningful and death a blessing, or to continue to live without purpose and without hope for the future?

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