21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
What faith! What selflessness!
'to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' Paul's faith in God that meant he wasn't worried about life or death. That is amazing!
Life can seem pretty tough at times but most people have a bit of worry/fear about dying. Yet Paul considered dying, 'gain'!
Being willing to live or die as God sees fit is a real challenge to me, let alone considering it 'gain'. I appreciate that life with God is going to be better, but there are so many things I want to live to see. Am I prepared to give up the hope of those things if God decides that's best?
I once knew a man that was in just that predicament, he'd been diagnosed with cancer and it wasn't looking good. Yet, he wanted to live. His greatest desire was to have grandchildren, but his children weren't quite ready for that yet so he'd need a few more years. Yet, as he prayed and sought God, he made the decision that whatever God wanted was for the best even if it meant he would not live to see the desire of his heart. The rest of his days he spent in heart-felt worship, fully committed to God despite the pain and suffering he was experiencing.
Such faith! Such selflessness!
This man has been a fantastic role model for me, and those that knew him.
You may know someone like that too. If not, Paul can be a great role model for all of us.
He was torn, what to choose?
Do we want to live? Or die? Do we get to choose?
Paul could see benefit in both - can you? Paul recognised that he didn't really have the ability to choose and he was clearly unable to decide. (- good job God doesn't leave every decision up to us right?!)
Be assured, you are alive because as Paul says, it is 'necessary' God has some purpose for you that only you can fulfil.
You may wonder what your purpose is, or even wonder if you have one - God made you for a reason otherwise you wouldn't even be here. So, what are you alive to do?
What about death then?
We like to think/hope that we get to have enough time left to fulfil our dreams - but what if we don't? what if God's time line differs to yours? Like it did for our dear friend.
If God were to choose that your time on Earth was up and He wanted you to be with Him, would you be ready? What things give you a hold on this life on Earth? And would you be prepared to selflessly give them up?
Live like you want to die.
Paul and Jesus did.