“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith…” Phil 2:17
The sacrifice of Paul’s service had been made, and Paul had no idea how much more time he still had left on earth to serve the Lord; therefore he was fully prepared to be poured out like a drinking offering, ending his earthly ministry as a martyr. Even though he was hoping that more earthly days would be granted to him, for the churches he planted still needed him, he was nonetheless ready for the end to come if it was God’s will. The apostle was truly torn between the two and would have rather gone to be with the Lord, for it was “better by far,” but if there was an unfinished task to be done out there, he would like to finish it.
By this time Paul was probably an elderly man whose physical strength had been completely spent, considering how much hardship and suffering he had experienced serving the Lord. Indeed, he had pushed his body to the limit and there simply weren’t a lot of miles left in him. The apostle might have suspected that his end was drawing near.
Even if that was the case, Paul had absolutely no regrets. He had done what he was called to do on earth, and a crown of righteousness was prepared for him in heaven.
Was there anything that he still had trouble leaving behind?
The bond he had been building with people through years of ministry was certainly strong and long lasting. He had come to treasure the friendships he made with a few people, and to leave them behind was gut-wrenching. Besides, there were a few people that he loved like his own children, particularly Timothy, to whom he would have the greatest trouble bidding a final adieu. Surely it’s extremely difficult for anyone to bid farewell to the world, no matter how loosely they hold onto earthly things. I don’t believe we see an exception in the apostle, who seemed to love and care about those who were around him so deeply and tenderly.
We should keep in mind that the day will arrive, either expected or unexpected, when we will have to cast our last glance at the sights we have come to love so much and glide away from it all. Yet we should not let morbid thoughts occupy our mind and heart, since anxiety for what will take place in the future may take away the joy we have in the present. Even if the worst may happen to us in death, it still does not do away with all the best the Lord has so richly bestowed on us in life. Besides, death does not swallow up life when it occurs; it simply transforms the life we know into another eternal life.
In this case, death isn’t something “devoutly to be wished,” for we are yet to accomplish all that we desire to achieve. One thing we do have to make sure of is that we lead a life of living sacrifice unto the Lord here on earth, and when the time finally comes for us to depart, may we be “poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice” unto him as well.