“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20-21
What is life all about? How about death? Honoring Christ should be our greatest desire and hope. The passage from Philippians today is a great encouragement to not waste our life OR our death. Here is more from John Piper, in a message “Don’t Waste Your Life,”
Paul’s all-consuming passion was that in his life and in his death Jesus Christ be honored, that is, that Jesus Christ be made to look like the infinite treasure that he is. The reason you have life is to make Jesus Christ look great. There is one central criterion that should govern all the decisions you make in life and in death: Will this help make Jesus Christ look like the treasure he is?
You can see this in the way Paul talks about the two halves of his statement in verse 20. He says that his passion is that Christ be honored (or magnified, or made to look great) whether by life or by death. There is the life half of the verse, and the death half. How does Paul show that Christ is his treasure by life?
The answer is given in Philippians 3:7-8:
Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
In other words, Paul displays the worth of Christ by counting everything else as loss for Christ’s sake. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of Christ.” Which means that the life that displays the worth of Christ—the unwasted life—is the life that uses everything to show that Christ is more valuable that it is. Money is used to show that Christ is more valuable than money. Food is used to show that Christ is more valuable than food is. Houses and lands and cars and computers are used to show that Christ is more valuable than they are. Family and friends and your own life are a place to show that Christ is more valuable than any of them.
The way we display the supreme worth of Jesus in our lives is by treasuring Christ above all things, and then making life choices that show that our joy is not finally in things or even in other people, but in Christ.
And the same is true in the second half of what Paul said in Philippians 1:20, namely, his honoring Christ by the way he dies. “It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” How is Christ honored—how do we make much of Christ and display his worth—by our death? He gives the answer in the next verse (21): “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Why is death gain? It’s gain because verse 23 says, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Death is gain because death means more of Christ. It means to depart and be with him—with him!—and that is far better.
How do you show that Christ is a treasure in death? By experiencing death as gain. Christ will be most magnified in you, in your dying, when you are most satisfied in him, in your dying. When Christ is more precious to you than all that life can give, then being with him through death will be gain. And it will be plain to all that Christ is your treasure, and nothing on the earth.
Here is the essential lesson for living the unwasted life and dying the unwasted death:
- Life and death are given to us as means of displaying the supreme value of Christ.
- The supreme value of Christ is displayed when you treasure him above all earthly things and all other earthly persons.
- This treasuring of him above all earthly things and persons is most clearly seen in what you are gladly willing to risk, or to sacrifice in order to enjoy more of him.