If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 1 Corinthians 15:19

It has taken me a long time to understand this verse. When I became a Christian, my life improved so much that it was hard to understand why Paul would say, “if it is only for this life … we are to be pitied …” whereas I was thinking if it was only for this life, I’m still better off. The Christian life yields many benefits—forgiveness, peace, comfort, community, purpose, significance and more.

Yet, when you look at the life of Paul you can understand why he would express this sentiment. He writes elsewhere, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, … in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles …” (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).

Paul was constantly in danger because of the cause of Christ. He lived a sacrificial life in order to spread the gospel. We see many missionaries doing likewise. Less apparent is Christians in all walks of life making huge sacrifices for the cause of Christ.

Paul doesn’t apply this statement just to himself. The verse applies to all of us. We should all be making sacrifices for the cause of Christ that wouldn’t be worth it if this life is all there is. We should all be living in such a way that makes no sense if there’s nothing beyond the grave.