For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.…
Here is the secret of the wonderful life of St. Paul and the ideal of the true Christian life everywhere. In so far as we approach this ideal we are Christian. The whole scope and aim and energy of Christianity are included in the conception of "living Christ.."
I. CHRIST GIVES THE PATTERN FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Christianity is Christlikeness. Only they who have the Spirit of Christ are his. The one call of Christ is "Follow me." St. Paul carries this truth out very fully in his descriptions of the assimilation of the Christian to Christ through every stage - birth (in the new birth), humiliation, self-denial and service in life, death (to sin and the old life), resurrection (to the newer spiritual life), and ascension (the setting our affections on heavenly things). We must beware of mere servile imitation in following the footsteps of our Lord. We are to seek to have the mind that was in him. If our circumstances are different from these of the first disciples, we have to inquire, not simply what was done in Galilee in the first century, but what would Christ do in England in the nineteenth century?
II. CHRIST INSPIRES THE PURPOSE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. The Christian is the servant of Christ. His object in life should not be to seek his own welfare, but to do Christ's work. It may be that he will suffer personal loss. That will not stand in his way if his spirit is right. For if Christ has died for us the least we can do is to live for him; and even though hardships ensue, we have to remember that we have only to be like Simon, bearing the cross, whilst Christ was nailed to it. So long, therefore, as our object is simply to secure the salvation of our own souls, to be sure of peace here and of heaven hereafter, we have not learnt the very alphabet of the Christian life. That life consists in denying ourselves and living for Christ.
III. CHRIST INSPIRES THE POWER NECESSARY FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. To live as Christ lived! To deny ourselves and serve Christ! These are hard things, impossible simply as duties to be performed in our own strength. But the gospel of the cross is "the power of God." Morally, the influence of the love of Christ constraining us is great. Spiritually, the power of the indwelling Christ is the real secret of the Christian life. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.