This is an epistle of humility. Humility is not the usual description leveled by St. Paul's opponents. In this letter we read and feel a warm intimacy between Paul and this church. We know from other letters and the book of Acts that Paul had an unusually close relationship with the Philippian church and the Philippian church frequently contributed to Paul's ministry and personal needs.
"For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain (21)." These are the words of a man who no longer has to survive. I believe there comes a time in our Christian journey where we let go of the things that normally weigh us down. We surrender the need to compete, to accumulate, or to control and in that surrender we discover a whole new level of grace and peace in Jesus Christ. Paul knows that his future is to be with Jesus. He will be with Jesus when he departs (that is when he dies) and he is with Jesus as he lives and performs his ministry in the here and now. That understanding and attitude is the most liberating of all. If I don't have to survive than I can risk all. If I don't have to survive than I can actually enter dialogue with others. If I don't have to survive I can take the lower place and serve as I was called to serve. . . to live is Christ to die is gain!
"Only live your life in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ . . ." Avoiding dissolute living not out of legal requirements but because we have a much better use of our time and resources. Avoiding living out our broken behaviors and moving toward holiness and wholeness is living in a manner worthy of the gospel. Remembering that we are here to transform the world and setting out to do what little bit we can . . . is living in a manner worthy of the gospel. Doing justice and loving mercy and walking humbly with God . . . is living in a manner worthy of the gospel. It is a high and gracious calling, indeed, and worthy of our very best.