For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:…
I. HAVING A DESIRE TO DEPART. A disciple of Christ may have a desire to depart.
1. For the sake of having the departing over. This is more terrible in prospect than in realization or in retrospect. We shrink from the strangeness of a new habitation however glorious; from the dark valley, however bright the yonder light.
2. For the sake of heaven's attractions as —
(1) A place. It is Paradise regained. Beauty smiles there, life reigns there, the blessing of God is enshrined there. There is no night, no withering cold or scorching heat.
(2) A state, sorrowless, deathless, curseless, sinless.
3. For the sake of the objects of our holiest affections — our Father, our glorified Saviour, unfallen spirits, redeemed souls.
4. For the sake of the realization of our highest hopes. The weary look for rest, the hindered worker for unfettered action, the sad for gladness, the solitary for congenial society, the fearful for safety, the doubtful for certainty.
II. THERE WERE CLAIMS WHICH HELD PAUL TO EARTH.
1. Had Paul been a husband and a father he could have turned to his household and said, "for you." But his only tie to earth was God's Church. There is a peculiar connection between the man who has been the means of another's conversion or spiritual progress which can never be dissolved and which no other can take up. Paul, therefore, desired to live to instruct and comfort his converts, guide the whole Church, and win souls for Christ.
2. This double attraction perplexed, him and it was a good sign, a sign of life and high sensibility. Those whose religious life is monotonous have not much life in them.
(1) A man of the world is in no such strait. He is drawn but in one direction; by many things it may be, gold, honour, treasures, but only earthward.
(2) The hypocrite is in no such strait. His straits are connected with keeping on his mask and his cloak.
(3) The lukewarm and declining Christian has no such straits.
3. This perplexity only existed until the will of God was expressed to him. As soon as he knew that he said, "I am ready; the time of my departure is at hand." Conclusion: The right state is to be attracted by Christ, wherever Christ is, in His Church on earth or His Church in heaven; and to the place in which we can most glorify Him.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: