Philippians 1:23-26 (NIV)
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
What a powerful time in the life of Paul. He is sitting in a prison (certainly in conditions far more barbaric than we can imagine) facing the very real possibility of execution and there are some Christ followers who are using his imprisonment against him. He then moves on to seemingly convince himself that he has no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. His conscience is clear. In fact, if it were up to him he would prefer to leave this earth immediately and be with Christ. But no! God is clearly going to deliver him from prison and the very real likelihood of execution so that, regardless of whether he is able to return to Philippi or not, his deliverance will help the Christ followers in Philippi grow in their progress (the character of their life in Christ) and joy (the experience of their life in Christ).
Three applications come from these verses:
1. Don't let your current material condition (good or bad) affect you. Focus on the faithfulness of God to work all things together for your good and the good of His Kingdom. It is about Him, not us. We should staple this to some part of our body.
2. Heaven is real and it will be a much better state than our current one. The apostle Paul had a pretty close relationship with Christ while here on earth and he preferred heaven. There will be real content to our life in heaven. We should live like it.
3. Our experience in heaven is linked in some manner to our development on earth. Why else would Paul be pushing the Philippians to grow in character and joy. We need to keep moving forward. We should invest in our relationship with Christ.
Lord, would you fill me with a deep conviction of your hand over my life? Help me understand that the next life is much more important than this one and help me keep that in the forefront of my mind today. And use the Holy Spirit to prompt me today and over the next several to reflect on the extent of the investment I am making in my relationship with you to see if I need to make any changes. Amen.
(Written by Bill Keating)