For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
1. How ominously the words "live" and "die" follow each other. There is but a comma between them. Life is but death's vestibule.
2. If you would get a fair estimate of the happiness of a man, you must judge him in these two closely connected things, his life and his death. Solon said, "Call no man happy till he is dead; for you know not what changes may pass upon him in life." We add, "because if the life to come be miserable that shall far outweigh the highest happiness he has enjoyed in this."
I. The good man's LIFE.
1. It derives its parentage from Christ. The righteous man has two lives, that which he has inherited from his parents, and a spiritual life, which is as much above mental life as that is above the animal or the plant.
2. Christ is its sustenance. Without Christ the newborn spirit must become vague emptiness.
3. The fashion of his life is Christ. Every man has a model by which he endeavours to shape his life. Men do not always do a thing because it is right, but because some one does it whom we take as a standard of propriety. What an outcry there is against a man who dares to be singular, and says, "I will not follow your model, I will follow Christ."
4. The end of his life is Christ; not wealth, respectability.
5. Its happiness and glory is all in Christ.
II. The good man's DEATH. Why does not death spare the good and take the bad. Gain! is it not loss in every sense? No; in every sense in which it is loss it is immeasurable gain.
1. He loses friends, wife, children; but only for a time; he gains them forever.
2. He loses his wealth; but, he gains eternal riches, and those who have no money to lose are made rich forevermore.
3. He loses the means of grace, but gains heaven.
4. He loses his partial knowledge; but sees face to face.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.