For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
1. The rendering is literally, "To me life is Christ," life altogether, everywhere, always is neither more nor less than this.
2. The word has wide application. The blade of grass, the tree, the worm, bird, behest, man, God, live. But there is life proper to each. In the lower forms it is simple, but as we ascend life becomes more complex, difficult, and, therefore, more noble. That is the noblest thing which surmounts disaster or suffering which retrieves itself or is retrieved. The life of man has so suffered, and has been so retrieved.
3. The text expresses an infinite indebtedness. No man could confer a benefit on fellow man so great as to put him under this law. Not to benefactor, defender, deliverer, could you say this.
I. THIS CANON RULES THE THOUGHT. The intellectual life is Christ's. This is not, however, to impair mental freedom. Man may expatiate on any field, making fresh discoveries at every step. But from the vantage ground of the Christ life all acquired knowledge can he put in right relations and error detected. Christ does not reveal all truth, but places man on the mountaintop of truth, where he is never out of the view of some truths.
II. TAKE LIFE AS SENTIMENT — thought with aroma in it, and beauty in it, without which no life is complete. How shall we keep the poetry in our life? Only by having the beauty of Christ's life.
III. TAKE LIFE AS FORCE — active moral force. A life without much force may be pure and good, but it can never be beneficent. A life with force may be destructive. To constitute good human force we need more than energy and self-will. We need right motives and wise means. If you leave Jesus Christ out of your life you cannot have any of them perfectly, "Be strong in the Lord," etc.
IV. TAKE LIFE AS HOPE, ASPIRATION, DESTINY. What is life if it be not this much. Without an assured future, no present of any kind can be worth a hearty interest. Have we an assured future without Jesus Christ? "Because He lives we shall live also." Conclusion: Is it Christ for you to live, or money, sentient pleasure, ambition, indifference, emptiness?
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.