2Co 5:9-11 “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
Paul has been speaking of our great confidence in God that He keeps us here in time and has prepared for us an eternal dwelling place. We are confident of these things because He has given us the earnest of the Spirit for an assurance of His perfect will. Because (wherefore) we are confident in what He has prepared for us, we eagerly labor and study (see Strong’s definition for the word translated as “labour”). We do this whether we are in our home country (see Strong’s definition for “present”) or are away (absent).
Sometimes we find ourselves yearning for what waits for us beyond this world to the extent that we forget the joy and peace He has prepared for us here. I believe Paul begins in these verses to turn our attention back to our service in His kingdom. When he writes that we labor to be accepted of Him, Paul is not telling us that our works make us acceptable in God’s sight. He tells us in Ephesians 1:4-6 that we are chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world, that He predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ according to His own pleasure, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved.
The word translated as “accepted” in 2Co 5:9 means to be well-pleasing; the word translated as “accepted” in Eph 1:6 means to show grace, make accepted or be highly favored. Ephesians pertains to our salvation by the grace of God and Corinthians is talking about our desire to please Him because of the great grace He has shown us. It is this desire to be well-pleasing unto Him because of our salvation that leads us to an understanding of the judgment seat of Christ.
Because Christ died for our sins, we will never have to receive eternally according to the things we have done. If that were the case, we would have no hope of eternal glory, for we have all sinned and come short. It is Jesus Christ who has made up this short-fall for us and made us accepted before God’s eternal judgment. Still, there is certainly a sense that we will reap what we sow. Thankfully, that occurs with us here while in this tabernacle.
We do not desire to have only the knowledge of our eternal salvation. As faithful children, we desire to know that we are well-pleasing to Jesus Christ while we live and serve in His kingdom here. It is with this reverential fear plainly in view that we assure men both the truth of our eternal salvation paid for by Jesus Christ and the need to be well-pleasing to Him while we live here. However, in the blood of Jesus, we are made fully presentable before God.
By the blood of Jesus, we also trust to be presentable to the consciences of God’s children here. As we minister, we must do so with the open acknowledgement that we have the same need as others to be well-pleasing to our Lord here in this world. At the same time, we have the same hope of eternal glory because our Lord was well-pleasing unto God our Father in all that He did and said while here on this earth.
May God kindle in us a great desire to be accepted of Him while absent (away from home) as we are assured that we are acceptable to Him when present (at home) with Him!