For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
I. Two MOODS IN WHICH PEOPLE FEEL THAT TO DIE IS GAIN.
1. The wrong wood, but the more usual one. When it is an expression of weariness and a desire to escape from suffering, responsibility, labor, temptation. This desire is a selfish one, and may mean no more than that he who expresses it is living for himself.
2. The right mood. When "to live is Christ." This is the mood in which St. Paul speaks. Christ had so taken possession of him that he was no longer living a separated life, but Christ's life was being lived in him. This is a bard life, but a joyous one. They who experience it find that it includes his cross, his yoke, his peace, his joy.
II. How can it be gain TO DIE, IF TO LIVE IS CHRIST? To die cannot be more than Christ! But it can be more of Christ. To the Christian death is a closer union with Christ, and is to find a higher life in him. To Jesus' to die was gain, and in the Christian, in whom Christ lives, the experience of Jesus is reproduced. He finds in death, not more of Christ crucified, but more of Christ risen, which is the exaltation of Christ crucified. Note how the "Nunc Dimittis" breathes this same spirit. Spoken by one who had seen the salvation of God, and to whom, therefore, to live was Christ, he is ready to depart, knowing that he will thereby see more of Christ. Only when we can say, "To live is Christ," can we say, "To die is gain." Only when Christ is in our arms and in our hearts can we say, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace." - V.W.H.
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.