For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:…
I. THE TWO DESIRES.
1. To depart and be with Christ. This desire is composed of two parts — a vestibule somewhat dark and forbidding, through which the pilgrim must pass, and a temple unspeakably glorious, which is to be his home.
(1) The exodus from this life by dissolution of the body. The band that knits body to soul is broken at death, and the soul escapes.
(2) The company to which the exodus more directly leads is Christ. Paul knew of no place of purgation. Wherever and whatever the place of saved spirits, one thing is certain — Christ is there. Christians need not care for more. Christ's presence is needed for human happiness. Heaven would not be heaven, however otherwise glorious, without a human Christ to fasten the affections upon.
2. To abide in the flesh.
(1) It is a natural and lawful desire. God has placed and visited us here, and given us something to do. This is a point of great importance. Some rebelliously cling to life without respect to God's will; others are troubled because in illness they discover a desire for longer days. Let the love of life remain, only get it so sanctified that at the appointed time it may cease.
II. THE CHRISTIAN BALANCED EVENLY BETWEEN THE TWO DESIRES.
1. To depart was far better.
2. To stay was more needful.
3. The desire to be with Christ does not make life unhappy, because it is balanced by the pleasure of working for Christ; the desire to work for Christ does not make the approach of dissolution painful, because it is balanced by the expectation of being soon ever with the Lord.
4. These two constitute the spiritual man. They are the right and left sides of the new creature in Christ Jesus. Where both grow equally, there is no halting; where both have grown well, the step is steady and the progress great.
III. PRACTICAL LESSONS.
1. This text is sufficient to destroy the whole fabric of Romish prayer to departed saints.
2. The chief use of a Christian in the world is to do good.
3. You cannot be effectively useful to those who are in need on earth unless you hold by faith and hope to Christ on high.
4. Living hope of going to be with Christ is the only anodyne which can neutralize the pain of parting with those who are dear to us in the body.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: