Have you ever wondered why you are here? Why should you remain on this earth, especially as a follower of Jesus? Paul was struggling with this question. He had spent the last thirty years or so of his life living for Jesus, had gone all over the world preaching and witnessing to people, and had been persecuted in many ways. He had been whipped, put in prison, stoned, shipwrecked, and lots more. Now he is in a Roman prison, and he doesn’t really know if he will live for a long time or be executed in the next few days. So he must be contemplating death. I can imagine him praying and asking God to just take him to heaven now. He has to be excited about the idea of getting rid of suffering and starting eternity in the presence of Jesus, Himself.
But Paul also realizes that as long as God left him on this earth he had a purpose. Part of that purpose was to encourage churches like the one in Philippi, and to witness to the soldiers in Rome. So Paul was content. If he staying in prison he would live for Christ. If he was released, he would keep on witnessing and preaching. And if he died, that would be cool as well, because it would be the ultimate gain. What an attitude. Can you imagine being so bold and fearless?
This is what an eternal perspective can do for us. If we realize that life is short, but eternity is glorious, we will not hold on to the trappings of this life and world so desperately. This will give us the freedom to live for God’s glory in this life while at the same time having the willingness to lay down our very lives for the Gospel. Paul understood that either way his life went, it would be for the glory of God and his blessing.
Andie Brahm was a criminal who was challenged to rob five convenience stores in an hour. In the fifth store he encountered a Christian who had faith like Paul. He placed a gun in this girls face and said, “Give me all the money in your drawer.” She responded, “Silver and gold I have none, but what I do have I will give you, Jesus Christ.” He told her again, “I am not teasing, give me the money in the drawer or I will kill you.” She responded again with her faith and fearlessness, encouraging him to trust Christ. One last time he tried to threaten and scare her, saying, “I’ll give you one last chance, or I will shoot you,” as he raised his gun to her face. Her response, “SUDDEN DEATH, SUDDEN GLORY!” She then handed him a tract. Andie left the store totally freaked out by someone who had this kind of faith and fearlessness. Later in life Andie committed his life to Christ as a result of this encounter, and now preaches the gospel around the world.