Paul muses here on his fate as he languishes in Roman custody. He is confident “that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance”(Phil 1:19). Yet he is aware that there are other possible outcomes. “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death”(Phil 1:20). Whether he lives or dies, he only wants his life and body to show his devotion to Jesus.
Yet which outcome should he root for? “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account”(Phil 1:21-24). Paul speaks as though he has a choice whether to live or die. Both outcomes have their advantages. Living is “Christ” because he will continue to serve Jesus by teaching and helping other disciples. But dying is “gain.” Why? “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” It is far better to be with Jesus than to continue here on earth. Until this is our perspective, we will have tremendous difficulty believing that dying is gain.
Departing to be with Christ will mean that we will miss countless sports championships, elections, TV shows, and the final enjoyment of that nest egg we’ve been saving up. As much as we love our families, our friends, our brethren, and the work we do here, the day will come when we will depart to be with Christ. Do I really believe that it will be “far better”?
------------- One Thing to Think About: Am I too attached to this present world?