To live is Christ and to die is gain
Philippians 1:20-23 (NIV) I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;...
Paul was sitting in prison, unsure whether he will be released or be torn apart by lions. His concern was that Christ is exalted in his actions, whether released or executed. Some Christians had not stood up to the horrors of the Coliseum, while others had honored Christ in their death. Paul expected and hoped that he would be among those who died in a way that would exalt Christ. Expectation mixed with hope is confidence in God while recognizing the weakness of the flesh. He knew God would help him, but he wasn't going to say his flesh wouldn't get in the way. He learned not to be overconfident in his own ability. None of us will know exactly how we will stand until the time is upon us.
If he lived, he would go on letting Christ express His life through him. If he died, he would go to his eternal reward and stand in the presence of the glorified Christ that he met on the road to Damascus. If he could make the choice, what would he choose? He knew that being released would give him the opportunity to lay up more treasure in heaven, to bear more fruit for the kingdom of God. He liked the idea of going home to be in the presence of Christ best. Still, he sensed the need to help the church grow.
In this dilemma, we can see a heart of love for God first, and the family of God second. His heart was in line with the great commandment. Is yours? Would Paul's dilemma be yours? Most of us would long for our physical family, but not especially the family of God. Our role in the body of Christ would not be a key factor, nor would the desire to be with Christ our first desire. That is because our daily life is not Christ. When our daily life is in Christ, our desires will be the same as those Paul exhibited.
Consider: The more Jesus lives in you, the more you will desire to be with Him in glory.