I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. Philippians 1:23
We live backwards, trying to avoid death at any cost. Anxiously we review the holiday death tolls on the highway, shudder at tragic air crashes and tornado, earthquake, and flood disasters, and tremble at dreaded terminal diseases like cancer and leukemia. We try to hide death behind nice-sounding words and cosmetic surroundings.
Paul didn’t view death or life that way. Imprisoned in Rome, uncertain as to whether he would be put to death by his captors, he welcomed the thought of death with these words, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” Earlier he wrote the Philippians, “To me…to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul knew that Jesus Christ endured death on a cross to pay for the sins of the world. Alive from the dead, Jesus was preparing a place for Paul in heaven, a glorious way to spend eternity. Believing in Christ, confident of a far better eternal life in heaven, Paul had a zest and a purpose for living.
Do you desire to “be with Christ, which is better by far?” Do you kneel penitently at His cross, recognizing the full forgiveness of your sins? Do you joyfully see the empty tomb and anticipate the heavenly celebration around the throne of the Lamb? God supplies a foretaste of the heavenly feast through His Holy Meal. As the desire grows to be with Christ forever, the zest returns for living joyfully today in humble service to others.
A backwards desire to the world, but a life-giving approach to life and death for the Christian. Death may be near, but with faith in Christ the future is secure. We are free to live for others backwards from death to life.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to recognize the full forgiveness of my sins through Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
(Devotions from “My Daily Devotion” by Dr. Stephen J. Carter, copyright 1988, CPH. All Rights reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. For ordering information, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit www.cph.org.)
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