The truth about St. Patrick is much more fascinating than any myth. He was kidnapped in Britain by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He said that he had two constant companions in his six years of slavery—hunger and nakedness. In those tough times, he remembered the words of his preacher father: “God is able to deliver you.” He committed his life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and Master of All. Patrick’s life changed, and his captors began referring to him as “that holy youth.”
Eventually, Patrick escaped back to England. After 20 years at home, he believed God wanted him to go back to Ireland. He returned and told the Druid chieftains about Jesus Christ. Over the next 30 years, he criss-crossed Ireland. Every day he spent in Ireland, he was in mortal danger, but he lived out the Bible verse, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), with a desire to whole-heartedly follow Jesus Christ, and a knowledge that he would one day go to heaven. Because of his dedication to God, 120,000 people decided to follow Jesus, and 300 churches were built. Patrick’s whole life was devoted to telling others how they could repent (turn from sin) and find forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus.
Why did Patrick do this? And how did he know that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? Long before he returned to England, he had remembered the words of his father, and knew that God was able to deliver him not only from slavery but also from his sin. He knew that he had broken God’s law.
This St. Patrick’s Day, consider this: Have you kept God’s law (the Ten Commandments)? For example, have you ever told a lie? Have you used the name of God or Jesus as a cuss word (blasphemy)? Have you ever looked at someone with lust?
If you’re like the rest of us, you can honestly say that you have broken all of those at some point in your life. God says if we’ve broken even one of the commandments just once, we’re lawbreakers, and it’s like we’ve broken them all.
Because God is infinitely just, He must punish sin wherever it’s found. And because we’re all guilty of sin, we all deserve to go to hell, a horrible place of eternal punishment. But God doesn’t want you to be a slave to sin on this earth, and he doesn’t want you to go to hell when you die. God’s Son, Jesus, came to earth and lived a perfect, sinless life. When Jesus died on a cross, He took the just punishment for our sins—for all the times we’ve lied, blasphemed, or otherwise broken the law— so He could set us free. Jesus rose from the grave just three days after his death, and He’s alive today.
Justice has been served, and Jesus extends to you a wonderful offer of eternal life. He asks you to simply receive it by turning from your wrongful ways (repenting), and trusting Jesus to remove the shackles of sin, be the leader of your life, and take you to heaven. There is nothing you can do to earn your way into heaven. All you can do is humble yourself before God, and accept this free gift.
How would you complete that sentence from the Bible? “To live is _________.” If your answer is anything other than Christ, you cannot say the second half of that verse: “to die is gain.” If you’re living for adventure, sex, money, or something else, then to die is to lose it all. To learn more about God and how to follow Him, take time daily to read and obey the Bible, and talk to God in prayer.