Read: Philippians 1:19-26
Key Passage: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”
Dig Deeper: Wow. I’ve read this passage many times, but I always find it so convicting.
In it, we learn two key things, (1) That Paul was looking forward to leaving this earth and going to be with Christ, and (2) that Paul’s ministry was more important at that time.
In our last study, we talked about perspective, and I think it fits perfectly here. Paul was so focused on Christ, so focused on things above, that he was completely ready to give up anything on earth, including his life. We look at his words through human eyes, through worldly eyes, and talk about the huge sacrifice he was willing to make to lay down his life for the gospel.
Paul didn’t see it that way.
He was so sure in his faith, and so sure in the promise that awaited him that for him, it was something he looked forward to. For him, to continue in this life was the sacrifice! Not only because he considered it a privilege to suffer for the sake of the gospel, but because he was set apart from this earthly life. He knew that this world had nothing to offer him. He was so focused on Heaven that he desperately wanted to leave this world and go be with Christ. A lot of us can say that, but do we really believe it? Do we really live it? I know I don’t. I am way too attached to a lot of things on this earth, and it’s something I’m trying to work on. I really want to set my mind and heart on things above, because I know that is the real “secret” to a happy and content life.
After telling us that he knows that death would be the far better choice, he says the following in verse 24: “Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”
How many of us can honestly say that our life right now is making a positive difference in someone else’s life?
Sometimes I find myself so wrapped up in my life, my problems, my to-do list…that I forget about ministering. That I forget about being Christ’s hands and feet. For Paul, even though he welcomed death, knowing it would be better for him if he could leave this world and go home to be with Jesus, he knew that it was better for others for him to stay and continue in his ministry. I pray that I can have that kind of effect on someone. I pray that my life will have eternal value to someone else’s. I want to be able to say that I am making a difference for God’s kingdom, that someone else’s life can be better because of mine.