Yesterday we talked about the anticipation that we should have for heaven – for spending an eternity with God. Today we will go a little deeper into our discussion.
Philippians 1 gives us an excellent example of the fine line we walk here. Verses 21-24 read, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” If you notice, every time Paul mentions his own personal preferences, what would be better for him, he speaks of going home to Christ. Notice the phrase “very much better.” Not just kind of better, or theoretically better, but “very much better.” He equates death with gain, not with loss.
And what does he mention as his purpose in continuing to live? Is it that he wants to have children first? Is it that he wants to retire first? No! Rather, the only purpose he can come up with is fruitful labor, for ministering to others and spreading the gospel. Consider the final phrase “to remain on is more necessary for your sake.” What? This statement is huge!
Paul’s life is so devoted to servitude that he equates his very reason for living as serving others. There is no reason for himself to stay alive and he has no problem in saying that he would much rather just go and be with Christ, but he recognizes that the work the Lord has him doing is important for others. This statement by Paul should cause us to think on two different levels.
First, how many of us think this way? If we are honest, probably very few of us. Paul obviously has a very big view of who God is. We should be continually praying that God would reveal more of Himself to us (and more of ourselves to us!) until we, like Paul, can cry out that going to be with Christ this exact second is so much better than anything we would be ‘missing’ here on Earth!
Second, how many of us could honestly say that our single greatest reason for living is to serve others? How many of us can pray, “Father, I want to come home! But perhaps allow me to linger on to continue to do this work in your name!” What impact would your death have on the world? God has not called us all to be Paul, but He has called us all to live our lives in complete abandon for Him and His Word.
The Lord blesses us in many ways while we are on this Earth. Every child is a gift from God. Beautiful weather is a gift from God. Delicious food is a gift from God. Good sleep is a gift from God. But all of these gifts are completely blown away by the ultimate gift of salvation in Jesus Christ and eternity with God.
Just like the children in our example, we should be preparing. We are only on this Earth for a short time and we need to be making the most of it – especially if we are praying that Christ would come back soon! Just as they took joy in picking their favorite outfits to wear for their friends, so should we be clothing ourselves with holiness and the fruits of the spirit.
Now, this is all very interesting to talk about and read about. But how many of us are really sitting on the edge of our seats every minute of every day wondering, “Will this be the day I get to go home??” As I mentioned earlier, this is due to our lack of knowledge of God. If we truly knew God for who He was, this world would sicken us. If we truly understood our salvation this would not be a struggle. But we are sinners and our minds are still clouded by sin. Let us join together today in prayer that God would make Himself known to us more every day. That He would so grow in majesty in our minds that we are willing and eager to count it all as loss for the sake of Christ and His gospel!