In Philippians 1:21-23 Paul expresses two desires that he had which created conflict. Notice what these conflicting desires were, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (22) But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. (23) For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better." Paul had two desires in his mind, "life" and "death". He describes the benefit of each desire in these verses. If he remained physically alive in his fleshly body, it meant that he would be able to continue teaching and preaching the gospel, expanding the kingdom of Christ. Verse 22 says the would be "fruit" from his labor. Notice also verse 24, "Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you." For the brethren, if Paul continued to live it would mean continued edification and instruction in Godly living. Paul's life was a life of service to Christ and also a great benefit to those who heard the message he taught.
On the other hand, Paul, in verse 23 expresses his desire to depart from the physical world (die) and be with Christ. He states this desire is "far better" than the first. Paul knew what awaited him. A rest from his labors, an escape from a world of sin, no more sorrow, no more trouble, no more pain, an eternal home of happiness with his Lord and Savior, these are the things that Paul longed for.
You and I as servants in the kingdom of Christ ought to have the same desires expressed by Paul in Philippians 1. Our lives are to be a service to Christ just as Paul's was. In Romans 12:1 Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Our desire should be to work as hard as we possibly can to live a Christ-like life. To teach the gospel to others, to be the kind of examples to others that God would be pleased with, realizing that by the way we live and the things we say, others can hear the good news of the gospel and render obedience to God and be added to the Lord's church. Doing that we should also hold fast to the ultimate desire that should be in the heart of every Christian man and woman, an eternal home in heaven. Paul realized that he had led a life of service to Christ and because of his obedience he knew what awaited him and that his ultimate desire would be fulfilled. We have that same hope today if we simply desire to live a life of service to our Lord helping others along the way, remaining obedient until the end, then our desire of a heavenly home will become a reality.
- Garrett Alsip