For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 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. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
In response to the verses above, David Wilkerson once asked, “Was Paul morbid? Did he have an unhealthy fixation with death? Did Paul show a lack of respect for the life God had blessed him with? Absolutely not! Paul lived life to the fullest. To him, life was a gift, and he had used it well.”
Through his personal pain, Paul was able to maintain an eternal perspective without thinking of death as a kind of escape. He was fully committed to honoring Christ in his daily life, but he also looked forward to the “gain” of death because it meant being in the presence of God. Still, he recognized his usefulness for the Philippians and was confident in his coming release.
Certainly, Paul did not have an unhealthy view of death. Maybe it is my own view that is off-kilter. I think his perspective is built on his clear sense of purpose in the moment. He was at peace with his current situation because of that confidence.
So let’s think about our lives. Is there a clear purpose for today and a proper perspective on the future?