- Lesson 3 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Pure Joy” focuses on Philippians 1:20-26.
“I am hard pressed between the two,” the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:23. Even Paul found it difficult at times to decide whether he wanted to remain alive to be with the saints or depart and be with the Lord. Yet, he made his own daily sacrifice to spread the gospel, endure hardship, and face the challenges of the day so the Lord’s will would be done.
Paul’s first option was to depart and “be with Christ,” as he described. His desire was to be with the Lord—not in a morbid sense of death, but in an eternal understanding of life. Paul understood life to be rest and reconciliation in the greatest sense and desired to be with the Lord in any way he could. But he also understood departing to be more than rest: it was freedom. When we pass on to the next life, we become one with the Spirit and truly embrace Christ. We are therefore free from the burden of our bondage and able to be truly at peace.
Paul’s second option was to remain in the flesh on the account of the Philippian church and others like it. His goal in this instance was to continue to teach them, train them, and love on them with the provision and guidance of God. It’s a noble goal, and one that most certainly inspires others to follow in the footsteps of Paul. However, Paul did not pick this as the preferable option because it still meant that he would endure pain and hardship while he was on Earth. It meant he offered himself up as a sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), knowing his life was not his own choice, but God’s. Instead of begrudgingly going along with it, Paul acknowledged that he was “convinced of this,” and his joy stemmed from seeing the Philippians glory in Christ Jesus.
Developing the fruit of the Spirit
With these options in this context, the choice between both remains difficult. But in both, the fruit of the Spirit are developed within us—whether in bondage or in freedom. Also, as we continue our time on Earth, we are being prepared for heaven while heaven is being prepared for us. Paul compared this time of transformation to the “pains of childbirth” for the believer as we seek to gather the fruit of His Spirit (Romans 8:22-23). We may ache, we may groan, and we may feel pain—but we ultimately know that no matter whether we are on Earth or in heaven, we have victory in Jesus Christ. Is that worth all the sacrifice? Absolutely.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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