"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." - Philippians 1:22-23 -Paul is sorting through whether he wants to live or die in this part of his letter to the Philippians. He writes this from Rome while he is in prison and on trial, so no doubt dying is an option. Side note, this is his first imprisonment and he is eventually released and goes on to write I and II Timothy and Titus. His letter to the Philippians is summed up in two words, "Gospel and Joy". He just wrote before this how it is his eager expectation and hope that he would not be at all ashamed but that with full courage, now as always, Christ would be honored in his body, whether by life or by death. And then the familiar, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
I love how in these verses Paul shows that he KNOWS he will have fruitful labor if he lives. He fully trusts the Holy Spirit's continued working in his life. He has seen it over and over again to a point that the debate is over...everyday he wakes up wondering how God will use him to be fruitful with the Gospel. That said, make no mistake about it, dying and being WITH Christ is FAR better than living. Nothing compares with being with Jesus. This letter is full of Paul showing how far better Christ is (see chapter 3). Of less importance is how this verse combats the idea of "soul sleep", in other words when you die, you are with Christ, not "sleeping" until the resurrection of your body.
Sometimes I wonder if God will work through me and produce fruitful labor. Paul encourages me because he has no doubt...to live in the flesh MEANS fruitful labor. This also combats any fear of death (not that I have that in the USA) because if you die as a believer you are with Christ.
Lord, help us to fully trust the working of Your Holy Spirit as Paul did. Thank You for his example to us.
Until the Whole World Knows,