Rejoice In Life Or Death
Previously Paul had rejoiced because the Gospel was being proclaimed regardless of the motivation of those preaching. He rejoiced. This week? He rejoices again.
The last thing Paul says in Philippians 1:18 leads directly into verse 19. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Paul’s expectation is that he will be delivered from his imprisonment. He is already rejoicing in this. He knows that it will come through the prayers of those he is writing to and through the Holy Spirit. He leaves the question open as to whether this is a physical or spiritual deliverance.
In fact, it seems that Paul is not concerned with whether he lives or dies as long as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed. According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Paul does not want to do anything that would bring any shame to Christ. Instead, he wants to continue to be bold in proclaiming Christ’s work. It matters not to him whether this is while he lives or while he dies.
Verse 21 is the life verse for many people. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Life is Christ to Paul If he dies, then he gains by being in the presence of Christ once he is gone. Few, if any, of us who claim this verse as our own have ever actually experienced the possibility of death for following Christ. Instead, it’s an abstract thought that can’t really happen to us.
If Paul is to live, though, it will be productive. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean more fruitful labor for me; Paul knows that if he is to stay on in life he knows that he will work for the sake of the Gospel and Christ and it will prove to be productive. He feels pulled in both directions And I do not know which to choose.
Why would he want to leave to join Christ? Paul is hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better. Paul feels the pressure from two desires, one telling him to go and the other telling him to stay.
Staying, though, seems to be the option Paul will take. Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Paul’s work is not complete. He still needs to remain and help those who are coming faith. His work is not complete. The Lord needs him to stay a while longer so he can help these young believers grow in the Lord.
What is the takeaway for us?
1. We should rejoice regardless of our circumstances as long as Christ is proclaimed.
2. Our hope should be that Christ is proclaimed in all that we do.
3. Christ should be our focus in life or death.
4. Our desires may have to be set aside for the greater good.