When life is unpredictable, it is often easy to lose perspective. There are many people who are struggling with staying positive with the lifestyle changes that have been thrust upon them due to COVID-19. Even though it seems like our lives have been turned upside down, God has a purpose that He wants you and me to fulfill today. In order to accomplish His purpose in our lives, we must keep an eternal perspective about life.
Paul wrote something that most Christians have memorized and recited on different occasions. It is a very simple statement; but it it needs to have a profound impact on how we live our lives.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 (NKJV)
In these few words, God gives us clear direction on how we are to live our lives regardless of what we might be facing. The first part of this verse tells us that we are to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus Christ. John puts it this way.
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:6 (NKJV)
When we walk as Jesus walked then everyone around us will see Christ in us. This is what Paul meant when he said that to live is Christ. But what is he saying in the second part of the verse — to die is gain. Paul is telling us that we should live our lives in such a way that people would see that we view death as something that is profitable and better than being alive. Of course, this view of “death is gain” is based on the hope that we have in eternal live.
In this passage, Paul was wrestling with deciding if it would be better to be alive or to die and enter eternity in Christ’s presence. We know that because he wrote:
But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Philippians 1:22-23 (NKJV)
I find these words amazing. Paul declared that if he continued to live here on earth, it would mean that he would experience fruitful labor or ministry. As you and I wake up each morning, do we do so with the perspective that being alive means that we are going have fruitful ministry?
I believe that there are many of us that struggle with experiencing this type of life in the midst of COVID-19. I wonder if some of us think that this is fine for Paul to say but I am in self-isolation and have to do everything online. I can’t be with my students, I can only try and teach them through online instruction. In fact, I can’t even go to church and worship with other believers and have to live stream services over the internet.
If you and I think we have it tough under the current stay-at-home restrictions, we forget that when Paul wrote this epistle, he was in greater isolation than we are — he was in prison! Even in our current COVID-19 circumstances, if God has us here, He has fruitful ministry for us to fulfill. Author, Andy Andrews, once said that if we are still alive, our purpose has yet to be fulfilled.
I know what you might be asking. How can I have fruitful ministry in these circumstances? Paul explained what his fruitful ministry would be as long as he remained alive on the earth.
Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith… Philippians 1:24-25 (NKJV)
The NASB puts it this way. Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Paul understood a marvelous truth. God was keeping him here on earth because it was necessary for the sake of others. There are other people who make it necessary for you and me to remain here on earth.
What is that necessity that causes God to keep us alive, even while struggling with COVID-19? It is for the progress and joy of someone’s faith. It isn’t for my progress and joy but for others.
A couple of years ago, I started a simple little routine to help me keep the right perspective when beginning a new day. I would sit down and ask God to bring some people’s names to my mind. As He did, I would write them down and then thank the Lord that for these people’s sake You have be alive today. Then, I would pray and ask God to show me how I could help them progress with joy in their faith.
It is my prayer that you will develop an eternal perspective that will give you direction each and every day. Make a list of the people that you know who make it necessary for you to remain alive. Next, ask God to show you what only you can do to help them progress in their faith.
If God could do this in Paul’s life while he was in prison, He can do it while you are confined to your home because of COVID-19. Today, I realize that one reason I remain in the flesh is because it is more necessary for YOUR sake! It is my prayer that this blog and other things that God allows me to do will help you grow with joy in your walk with the Lord.