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. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.
— Philippians 1:23-25
Paul was willing to remain with the Philippians for their progress and joy, even though he knew that to depart to be with the Lord was far better (1:23). On the one hand, Paul was ready to die, and he looked forward to being out of the body and at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Still Paul did say that to die was “far better”! It meant freedom from the limitations and frustrations of the flesh, and enjoyment of the Lord’s presence in full.
It is very rare in Christian history to find this kind of earnest desire to be with the Lord. Most consider how they might live longer, even giving as their reason the need to continue on for the church’s sake. Isn’t this a good reason? Particularly if you truly care for someone, you will want to remain to care for that person.
Paul, however, really experienced a struggle in his choice between these two possibilities. A parent, however, would always seek to continue on with his children for as long as his children need him. So, regardless how much he personally wanted to be with the Lord, Paul’s desire to see the Philippians grow and progress in Christ was greater. Therefore, he did not allow Caesar to put him to death.
Adapted from Oneness and the One Accord, page 63.
Tomorrow: “Overruling the Environment”