Philippians 1:20-26 – …with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 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. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
The first person who ever died that I really loved was my grandpa George. I can still remember the day when my parents told me he had passed. I was 10 years old, and this experience got me thinking about death and what awaits us on the other side. Until that point, I don’t remember thinking much about death as a kid. Thankfully, Jesus came back from death and tells us that if we are with Him, He’s got life on the other side covered.
In the Bible book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul is under arrest, chained to a Roman soldier, and unsure what his future fate might be. Contemplating his own death, Paul is honestly uncertain which he prefers. If he lives, he can use his suffering as an example to encourage other believers, preach Christ, see his friends, and help those in need. If he dies, he can be vindicated by God, have his suffering end, and just hang out with Jesus, which is “far better”.
In short, living was best for others, dying was best for Paul. Once you know Jesus Christ, at some point you no longer fear death but rather eagerly await life on the other side. When we are young, we are often ambitious and too busy chasing our dreams to consider death. In our adult years, we are so busy working our jobs, raising our kids, and paying our bills that we don’t much stop to ponder what happens when we hit the expiration date for our brief life on earth. But, as we get older, we find ourselves closer to the finish line than the starting line. Our heavenly home appears on the horizon and we begin longing for that new nation. This is what Paul means saying that “to die is gain” because we get to “be with Christ” which is “far better”.
Personally, as I get older, I look forward to seeing my grandpa George again and having a fun party with Jesus for departed family and friends. How about you? What are you looking forward to? Who are you looking forward to?