Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
My son and I love to rock jump. Few things are as exhilarating as falling through space with heart in throat before plunging into the water below. We have found that in picking a spot from which to jump, perspective matters. When we start off, we choose a spot which looks good from below. After we climb to the top and look down however, there is always a what-was-I-thinking, moment. Standing on the edge, preparing to jump, is a completely different perspective than looking at the rock from below. The same ledge is always twice as high when standing on top of it. Perspective matters.
Paul, writing today’s passage from prison, could have complained about his situation. Instead, he chose to see that God was using his imprisonment for good. Still, he had moments when he wearied of life. Contemplating his own life and death, he honestly admitted, My desire is to depart and be with Christ (v. 23).
Though he longed to be free from the trials of this flesh, he kept his eyes on God’s will, not his own. He said that to continue to live was to have the privilege of doing God’s work here on earth. Paul chose to see that to live was to do God’s will, while dying meant being made perfect in Christ. Paul’s perspective was that life or death was a win-win situation. With eyes on God’s will, even death and incarceration did not matter.
This, honestly, is foreign to me. In my terminal self-focus, I do not have the perspective that I am privileged to do the will of God. My will is not focused on God, but rather on self. To live is Scott, would be a better description of my perspective.
My drug addiction was probably just my grossest manifestation of this. I still, daily, find it most natural to want what I want. This is the problem with my flesh nature. It naturally consumes my focus and perverts my perspective.
In contrast, Paul’s perspective was, eyes on Christ, which made all the difference in his life. Trials and difficulties became opportunities for him to grow and do God’s will. Paul chose to see that, as he was saved by Christ, his life was not his own (1 Cor. 6:19,20).
This perspective, as it is not natural, is a choice that I must make daily. Just as a rock ledge looks completely different depending on my perspective, life looks very different with my eyes on God or self. If I want real life, I must daily choose to keep my eyes on God.