“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” - 2 Corinthians 5:9-10
In yesterday’s reading, Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be of good courage and stay focused on the coming glory, even in the midst of suffering. In today’s passage, he continues that theme and expounds on the how and why. What does a courageous life look like? It is one in which every thought, word, and deed is motivated by the desire to please God. Every moment of every day. Regardless of location, circumstance, or consequence. No matter where he was or what was going on around him, Paul’s ultimate goal was pleasing the Lord. Why? Because he knew that, one day, he would be held accountable for every moment of his life on earth.
The term “judgement seat” evokes images of a courtroom, which is precisely what Paul intended. In Roman tribunals, the governor examined evidence, heard witnesses, and rendered verdicts from an elevated bench, much like American judges do today. (Modern readers might even hear the “dun dun” sound from Law & Order in their heads.) Paul lived in anticipation of the day he would appear before the throne of God. There, he would receive grace through Jesus Christ, but he would also have to answer for all he had done and left undone. Did he fulfill the great commission put on his life? Did he model what it means to live for Christ? Did he build the church by proclaiming the Gospel message entrusted to him? Paul wanted to shout “Yes!” in response to each of these questions.
The Roman governor also presided over athletic contests from his seat of authority. Like today’s Olympians, participants devoted their lives to training and preparation. They made great sacrifices just to compete for the victor’s crown. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul urged believers to live with the intention and discipline of an athlete, to endure rigorous training for race day, and to keep their eyes on the imperishable prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Each of us will stand before the judgement seat of Christ. Have we fulfilled God’s purpose in our life? Have we sought his pleasure above all else, knowing that eternal life is the only prize of real and lasting value? Or have we been distracted by the comforts and pursuits of this world? Pleasing God was Paul’s top priority, and the fruit of his ministry was abundant! Will we be able to say the same?
Reflect and Respond:
Is pleasing the Lord the primary focus of your life? Spend some time with the Lord and ask him if your priorities need to be shifted. There will be no joy, earthly or eternal, like living whole-heartedly for the Lord! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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