Should I stay or should I go?
Paul was reviewing two options in his life but he actually had an inclination toward death. This man was in prison when he wrote to the Philippian church and understood that martyrdom was a real possibility in his life so he is going back and forth on the role that life and death takes place in his journey down here on earth.
"But if I live in this flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I know not." 1:22. What Paul was saying is he felt his labor for Jesus Christ was good. He did not have a problem with his heart (motives) or his performance (A fruitful servant for Jesus Christ). He realized that God keeps His children down here in this world as long as He can so our "Labor" gets put to good use but there are exceptions to this rule. I have seen God prematurity take home really sincere Christians at the height of their ministry. It is not that they did anything wrong but the Triune Godhead had other plans for them in heaven. Of course other factors may have been present but the real truth of the matter is we will never know until we get to the other side in Paradise. We see one or two truths whereas God sees twenty five so this wisdom belongs to God.
What we need to understand here is Paul was in a dilemma between two good things. Not one bad thing (his ministry on earth) and one good thing (being in heaven with Jesus Christ). Many Christians see this scenario as good and evil but Paul sets the record straight and witnessed that both are good if you are living for Jesus Christ. Both are bad if you are not so first we need to make a choice if we have not already done so because being apart from Jesus Christ is never in our best interest or glorifying to God. If we don't see our ministry and journey down here as a blessing we may want to pray to God about this issue and allow Him to turn a bad attitude into a good outlook because everybody will be affected if we don't approach others with a vibrancy for Jesus Christ. People will start to ask if God is dead through our coldness. Remember what is in us has to come out in one way or another.
"For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ: which is far better." 1:23. Paul knew that to be in heaven with Jesus Christ meant he could say goodbye to sin, temptation, sorrow and death for all eternity. "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful to you." 1:24. To do his job in his fullest capacity on earth through the power of the Holy Spirit meant he was meeting the needs of others so he knew he had to be here, deny himself and wait patiently for the comfort of heaven. If we move ahead of God we will be self willed and on our own forgetting that other people need help. Deep regret will lie dormant in our hearts because anything we do has to be with Jesus Christ in His way and His timing.
"And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy and faith." 1:25. God will make the right decision so He can advance His message on earth. Our part is to trust Jesus Christ for this and He will honor our faith in Him. Trusting in Jesus Christ is supposed to be joy; therefore, we as Christians can move forward in the filling of the Holy Spirit because at the risk of repeating myself the more faith the more joy. Less faith in Jesus Christ is more sorrow and grief which we will have to carry in our souls. This is why Paul says, ... "For your furtherance and joy and faith" because he understood the principle that I just explained in this paragraph.
Sometimes it takes tremendous strength and character to have faith in God because of overwhelming circumstances and on other occasions it is simple. We need to go through the tough and easy times with endurance. It does not hurt to pray, "Lord I'm going through a difficult time right now ... can you please help me?
" That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again." 1:26. Notice Paul is moving away from this debate, "Should I stay or should I go." Now he desires to get into the substance of the Christian life. There must have been Godly affection for Paul because they wanted to see him again but understood that all their joys should end in the Person of Jesus Christ, not a man. It is one thing to like a minister but this should be filtered with our "Joy" in Jesus Christ for the servant as the individual labors for God. We can not glory in a person because that honor goes to the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again on the third day. What if the minister falls? Then we say, "Oh know." Do you see where I am going with this biblical precept that comes straight out of the Bible? To God be the glory!
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." 1:27. It is very interesting to me that Paul starts out by using the word "Conversation." Sometimes we say, "I just want to be a good witness for Jesus Christ." We can start with our words even if we are not talking about God. It is amazing what people will pick up about our character in a "Conversation."
Paul did not know if he would ever see the Philippian church again so what does this tell us as Christians? Our faith is not in the hands of ministers but in Jesus Christ Himself. Paul ends this verse in very interesting way because he uses many "Ones." One spirit, one mind and striving together. He says all of this in less than a half of a sentence.
It is one thing to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is another thing to strive for it in our daily living. I have found that people that do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord tend to go through life blind on purpose but true Christians come together in the Person of Jesus Christ in unity. We have to be diligent and disciplined to do this because according to this account we should be striving with each other not against one another.
We need to be fixed in our minds that we are going to be stable in Jesus Christ yet one with another in the gospel. I noticed that when I witness to many people they step back because there is an internal gospel built into them that understands they must abide by this principle. If a Christian fellowship gets caught up in division they will learn but the hard way so we would be best if we just listen to God. This is a truth that goes all the way through the Bible -- trust and obey for there is no other way.
"And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God."1:28. Paul knew that the earnest Christians were suffering and encourages them to have courage in Jesus Christ. Yes oppositions will come but to take the response of fear is a snare that will trap us at the mercy of the persecutors. Remember these people are destined for the bad place in eternity unless they repent to God. This is why Paul speaks of the ... "Token of perdition" ... so understand the Bible speaks of this battle that we must face because it is not an option if we are a true Christian. They are openly opposing the gospel but more to the point are confessing their spirit is against Jesus Christ. On the other hand being persecuted is a mark of true salvation in Jesus Christ if you are truly living for Him. I understand people not genuine in the faith have been tormented but that is not what I am referring to in context of this passage in Scripture. That is an entirely different subject.
If you have not invited Jesus Christ into your heart you may be saying, "This all seems so complicated but what took me many years to learn is people make things hard, God sets up truths that are simple. Take the honest road of eternal value rather than earthly manipulation and accept Jesus Christ into your heart by repenting of all your sins and allowing God to write your name in His Lamb's book of life.
There were some really honest, sincere, earnest believers in the Philippian church who were on the right road to living for God on earth and on their way to heaven when they died in Christ. Do not find yourself going into eternity apart from Jesus Christ. Accept and live for Him on earth and understand you will enjoy the comforts and joys in heaven with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords for all eternity.
God Bless you,