Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,Philippians 1:25(NASB)
Paul had been flung into prison for defending the gospel, but rather than having a negative effect on the church, he rejoiced because his imprisonment accelerated the spread of the gospel. It emboldened certain believers to proclaim the message of Christ fearlessly, and even Ceasar's elite, praetorian guard, heard the good news of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, because Paul's was in their custody.
Paul was convinced that God would use his confinement in Rome for good, and that it would result in his eventual deliverance. But he also valued the prayers of the saints and the provisions God provided, through them. Paul firmly believed the good work God started in his life would be completed in God's time and in His way.
His earnest expectation and hope, was that his message and ministry would not be discredited or put to shame in any way, but that he would be able to continue speaking out the marvellous message of salvation freely, openly and boldly, so that whether he lived or died, the lovely Lord Jesus Christ would be magnified by his imprisonment.
Paul had no fear of death for the victory had been won at the cross. At times he felt hard-pressed to know whether departing this life to be with Jesus or remaining here to continue his ministry was preferable. His driving passion was to exalt Christ, yet he considered death would be for his gain, for he would be with Jesus, Whom he loved.
However, Paul concluded that living on in the flesh was more necessary for the sake of his readers at Philippi and that it would also produce fruitful labour for him and so he wrote: "convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith".
Paul gave us a peep into his mind as he considered whether continuing to live on earth or going to be with the Lord was preferable, but he became convinced that Christ would be better served if he remained in the flesh, to minister to the saints and share the gospel with the lost.
Paul realised that his continuing ministry at Philippi, and to other churches he served, would help and encourage them in their Christian walk. It would spur them on to greater spiritual maturity, strengthen their faith in God even more and produce their mutual "joy in the faith". I doubt he fully grasped the far-reaching impact this little letter, and his other epistles, would have on multitudes of saints, during the following 2000 years of the church age.
It also seems that as he penned this verse, Paul began to anticipate his next visit to Philippi and the mutual "joy in the faith" they would have when they next met, for he continued - "that in me you may have abundant cause for exultation and glorying in Christ Jesus, through my coming to you again".
Paul found his joy in Jesus and "the joy of the Lord" is our strength too, and whether we live or die, our "joy in the faith" is one of the many benefits we increasingly access as we abide in His love and He in us.
May we never forget the far-reaching impact of Paul's ministry, because he was a man whose confidence was in God and considered that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
May we be ready and willing to live and die for our saviour; to boldly proclaim the gospel of grace and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, and may we stand firm in one spirit with our brothers and sisters in Christ, for His greater praise and glory.
Heavenly Father, what an example the apostle Paul is - of a man whose driving passion was to exalt Christ in all he said and did, to minister to his brothers and sisters in Christ and to share the gospel of grace with the lost. I pray that I may have that same holy mindset, so that whether I live or die, my dear desire is to exalt the Lord Jesus in my life, to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and to stand firm with my Christian brothers and sisters. May I so grow in grace and in a knowledge of my Lord and Saviour that I may say with Paul - for me to live is Christ and to die is gain - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.