A short quote concluded my eulogy to my youngest sister. We gathered for her memorial service this past Saturday. The service opened with a silent reading of a series of verses, selected from those her husband found she had highlighted, or underlined, in her Bible over the years. The short quote was among them, unbeknownst to me. So, the same words I found, to summarize how she lived, were among the words she highlighted for herself.
“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” — Philippians 1:21 (King James Version)
What do these words mean? This life really does matter, it is filled with meaning. Saint Paul, writing from a Roman prison, and knowing he will die at the hands of the Roman government, writes that living this life has importance to his Lord. So, he strove to conduct himself in a way that reflected and glorified the One he professed.
At the same time, the second half of the quote points to freedom from fear of death. Saint Paul looked forward to something far better than the best of this world. This freed him from compromising his beliefs, to escape Caesar’s deadly wrath.
Notice the balance within this quote. Living, the right way, has supreme value and dying is a door to even more. To live in that balance is to invest each moment with purpose, while being free from mortal fear that turns to clinging.