“For to me life is Christ, and death gain; but what if my living on in the body may serve some good purpose?” The purpose of which Paul speaks is to “stand by [us] all to help [us] forward and to add joy to [our] faith.” (Philippians 1: 25) Paul would rather die and be with Christ, which “is better by far.” (Philippians 1: 24)
Paul calls us to “look to each other’s interest and not merely to [our] own.” (Philippians 2: 4) It is in Paul’s best interest to exit life to be with Christ — for to Paul “death is gain.” Instead, he knows “there is greater need for [him] to stay on in the body.” (Philippians 1: 25) He puts our interests above his own. Paul says, “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus. For the divine nature is His from the first; yet He does not think to snatch equality with God, but makes Himself nothing, assuming the nature of a slave.” (Philippians 2: 5 – 8)
The author of Hebrews writes of men and women of faith who die “not yet in possession of the things promised.” Instead, they “see them far ahead and hail them, and confess themselves no more than strangers or passing travellers on earth. Those who use such language show plainly that they are looking for a country of their own. If their hearts are in the country they leave, they could find opportunity to return. Instead, we find them longing for a better country — I mean the heavenly one.” (Hebrews 11: 13 – 16) For them death is gain. For us, too, death is gain. But we remain in the body so as to serve one another, build up one another, love and care for one another.