Spend money in a way that shows that money and stuff is not your treasure, and you will not waste your life. Give money away that you will never see again, and you will get a sense of what Paul means when he says ‘to live is Christ.’ This is hard. We love money, we love the security, opportunity and status it brings. if we learn one thing about our western culture in the current economic climate, it’s that we all love money.
But should we not love Jesus more? Moments after we die, we will know how we should have spent our money in our lives. Forty million years from now, when we have more Christ centered joy in our hearts than we can imagine right now it will seem incredible to us that we thought spending money on ourselves was ever more important than spending money for the sake of Christ.
To live is Christ, says Paul and to die is gain. But what does this mean? How do we make much of Jesus in our death? How can we die to show that Jesus means more to us than life? This is important to think about whether you’re a freshman in high school or whether you’re in your eighties. How will we die?
Death is seen my almost everyone today, including many in the Church as the great enemy, as something to be avoided at all costs. Paul didn’t seem to see it that way. Paul said something quite incredible…he says that to die is gain. This sounds so strange to our ears it may as well be in a foreign language, what does it mean? We see in John 21:19 that Peter would have a death that glorified God, that Peter knew that to die is gain.
But how? Well look at verse 23 with me: for I am in a strait betwixt the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. It is far better to be with Christ, says Paul. Far better. Psalm 16:11 promises that ‘there is fullness of joy in His presence, pleasures forever at His right hand.’ Doesn’t that sound good? Isn’t that what we’d like? Fullness of joy and pleasures forever? Well that’s why death is gain, because that’s what we get being with Jesus when we die. Think of the sweetest times you’ve had with Jesus in your life, and then imagine that multiplied billions and billions of times, and getting better every day, and then you have the slightest, smallest glimpse of what Heaven will be life. The Great Awakening preacher Jonathan Edwards says this on the subject: The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean. Death for the Christian is not to be enjoyed, but faced, knowing that it will bring us everlasting joy and happiness at the side of our Savior. Death for the Christian is a vehicle that takes us where we want to go. Paul says it’s better to be with Christ. To not waste our life is to able to say that with him. To not waste our life is to be happy to leave everything behind to be with Him.
This is hard. To view what we can not see as more valuable than what we can see is hard. It’s easy to be happy with a comfortable and safe life. It’s easy to be happy throwing dimes into other’s people’s dreams. So we must pray, we must pray for focus if we’ve lost it, we must pray that we would keep our focus if we have it. We should pray that we would be like Abraham, who was searching for a city as yet unseen, like Moses, who considered reproach for the sake of Christ better than all the wealth of a prince of Egypt, like the Christians in Hebrews 10:34 who joyfully accepted the plundering of their property because they knew they had a better possession with Jesus.
So what is the unwasted life? The life that sees life and death as gift from Jesus to make Him look great. A life that does this by counting everything as loss for His sake, a life which accepts weakness, like Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, as long as if makes Christ look great. A life that will say to Jesus, ‘Lord, you can do anything with me…anything, as long as you are magnified through it, as long as you are my life, you can do anything with me, because you, Jesus, you are worth it.’