We Make It Our Goal To Please Him
2 Corinthians 5:9-10
“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Last week’s key verse was verse 5, and titled: Fashioned For This Purpose. “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” God fashioned us [or created us] for this very purpose, that we might never suffer death but be clothed in everlasting life in glory with him forever in his kingdom. Paul was trying to help them understand the difference between living for what is temporary and perishing and living for what is eternal and forever lasting. If they could only understand that they were fashioned for that rather than designed to perish, maybe they will take their eyes off the world and look ahead. If they could do that, they could also do something else as well. They could do what they were fashioned to do in this world and in the next as well, which is what I want to talk about today. Read verses 9-10. These are very interesting truths that catch our attention and won’t let go.
When you think about it, not every believer’s goal is to please him. There are many whose goals are to please themselves and to do whatever it takes in life to ensure that their lives flow as effortlessly and painlessly as possible. These believers have goals too. But their goals are as far from pleasing the Lord as the eye can see. In fact their goals seem to be totally opposed to the will of God who, to put it simply, wants us to reflect his image in our lives. They still consider themselves believers! But they seem to believe more in themselves and in what the world offers than in the Bible teaching. I’m not sure how they pacify their own conscience to give in to the illusion that God is alright with whatever they do— that God understands— and that it doesn’t really take all that much to please the Lord as long as they love homeless people and fight for a cleaner environment and for a moderate Christian in government.
But what the Bible says is an imperative! We make it our goal to please him! It is our duty and privilege to MAKE IT our goal to please him. And that’s not always easy. But still, it is our duty to make it our goal to please him. I know that naturally it is not my goal to please him, but to please myself, and consequently to also please others— if it benefits me and gives me an edge in gaining their favor. But as a child of God who’s life has been redeemed by Christ and delivered from sin and death, there is no greater honor, joy and privilege than to renounce my earthly goals and to embrace the newfound goals Christ placed upon my heart— [and what is that?] It’s the goal of pleasing him above all else! And therefore, hard as it may be, I make it my life goal of life to please him— to live a life that pleases him— to discipline my inner self and my body and soul to “find out what pleases Him” so that I might do it all the time. Most believers aren’t usually thinking about how serious this is! And how urgent it is to discipline our goals and to make them please the Lord at any cost— whatever the cost!
Look at verse 10. Paul says that it is the human goal to please him whether at home in the body or away from it, meaning whether dead or alive. We can understand alive, but how can we understand a goal like this for the dead! What does it mean? It means that at the core of our being, it is the deepest desire of the human spirit to please the Lord. In other words, we were created [fashioned] to please him, now and always, in the body while on earth and afterwards when life passes on from the natural to the spiritual. Every human being was created for God’s pleasure that we might please him. (Genesis 1:31) That purpose and goal is written so deep down in our constitution, whether we are a believer or not, that this inner longing to please God is stronger than any other longing in life. No one can deny this reality if they look deep enough into their hearts. Even the criminal next to Jesus on the cross had that deep longing to please God even while he was taking his last few breaths. But that longing is usually smothered early on by the powerful pull of sinful desire that pulls them in the opposite direction towards pleasing themselves instead of the Lord. Then the devil convinces them that it’s hopeless to pursue that inner longing— that it’s hopeless to even try to do anything worthwhile or pleasing for the Lord. He tells them some lie which they end up believing. But as sinful as they may be, and as far gone as they may be, or as callous as they may have become in their conscience, that longing to please the Lord never goes away. At any moment in life, they can choose to cast off the lies, count the cost of rebuilding, and with the proper funds, begin to rebuild a totally different life— one that’s pleasing to the Lord. And there’s a good reason they should do so.
Before we go to the reason why it’s critical for all people to pursue the longing that’s at the core of our being, I want to stop for a moment to speak of why God expects us to make it our goal and ambition to please the Lord first in life, and then mature in this purpose in our spiritual transition past death even. As Paul said, to “Make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it”. Jesus’ disciples were typical of those who clearly showed that human beings have a deep longing within their hearts to please the Lord. When Jesus came calling disciples to a life that required faith and commitment, hardship and sacrifice, they left quite a bit behind to follow him and to share his life with him— since Jesus’ life was typical of one who lived to please the Lord. But at the same time, there was no doubt they were weak and selfish and still under the power of sin in their lives. It often pulled them in the opposite way so that they behaved in a manner that displeased the Lord. From the record that we have, we know that their ambition to outdo one another and wanting to be first was enormous. They were often slow of faith; some were hot tempered; some fanatical; some even harsh and unkind to kids. However failing they may have been, Jesus didn’t despise the seed of that holy desire to please him in their hearts but nurtured it. At what cost? Jesus knew that the seed would grow to bear full fruit the day he sheds his blood on the cross and rises from the dead to give them a new life in him. After his resurrection, the seed of selfishness began to shrivel as they each made it their goal to please him in life and in death.
Even since the day Jesus ascended to heaven and sent us the Holy Spirit, those who believe and consequently receive the Holy Spirit as the promised gift and guaranteed deposit and assurance of their salvation have a charge and responsibility. Their charge is to make it their goal to please him whether in the body or away from it, in life and in death. A good question is, what’s the best way to please the Lord? I can honestly tell you that even a blind and deaf person can know what pleases the Lord if he or she wants to— please him, that is. But for those who really want to know, God wants you to “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to [Him].” (Romans 12:1) He considers that your spiritual act of worship. Worship needs be an act of sacrifice of self— that is of body, of soul and of mind. In other words, God wants you to sacrifice your whole self in an act of love and devotion to him. Is that asking too much you think? What do you think love is all about then! In your acts of sacrifice, your offering has to be real and precious, something that reflects the worth of the Lord you are worshiping. It’s a shame that most people’s self sacrifices reflect nothing but contempt for the one they worship. Today’s people worship themselves and their own wants and desires more than they worship the God they claim to love and honor. I can also honestly tell you that it doesn’t please the Lord to study the Bible with only half a heart! It’s a shame the way some people treat the Bible these days, as if it’s a disease to avoid rather than the most precious treasure God has ever given you! And I can also tell you that it doesn’t please him to worship him with a laid back spirit and a carefree attitude. It’s a shame also how some attend half a service rather than the full worship service just because they don’t care for example for the singing part in the beginning or they don’t want to stay at the end to pray with someone else. Others come in and go out of the worship service to fill their coffee mugs during worship as if it weren’t a worship service but a movie house. Do you think that’s harsh? What do you think Jesus meant when he said that God is actually seeking worshipers who “Worship him in spirit and in truth”? (John 4:24)
Worship was designed to please God— that is, a holy worship that serves and honors God from the heart— A person fully engaged and dedicated in body, heart mind and soul— the giving of yourself to him, as he in turn, gives of himself to you! When I am as empty after service as I was before, it isn’t God’s fault! God gives of himself to me in proportion to how much I give of myself to him! And that’s only fair, isn’t it? Every one of us has a deep supreme desire deep inside of us, to please the Lord. But we can’t leave it sitting there collecting dust! We need to take hold of it and make it our goal to please him. And there’s no doubt, it will cost us something. For some, it will cost them some labor and effort and discomfort; For some others, it will cost them to lose a bit of the fun they have and to give more dedication instead to the pursuit of godly things in their life; Still others, it might cost you a whole lot more. But believe me it’s all worth it. Pleasing the Lord and having his favor in your life is all worth it! It’s worth a whole lot more than what it’s costing you to please yourself and those few people you think you have to impress to get ahead or to appear cool. Through the immense and costly sacrifice of his death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for all of us to nurture and cultivate that holy desire to please the Lord, a desire which is as much a part of us as our very own body and soul. Of course, there are many ways to please Him. Each person’s ministry is unique, although our ministries are intertwined. God knows how to speak to the hearts of those who want to know how to please him. Some people feel it gnawing at their hearts all day long. I don’t know what they’re waiting for. In the end, no one can excuse his or her own negligence. And another thing; no one can avoid the inevitable. And what’s that?
Read verse 10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” In verse 7, Paul talked about living by faith rather than living by sight. That’s how believers live when their hearts are set on the invisible unseen heavenly things, rather than set on the visible and all too often glittering things of this world. When your heart is set on the things of heaven, especially where your future hopes are stored, one of which is the glorified heavenly body the Lord promised to give you upon your resurrection— when your heart is set on that, even though you cannot see it now with your human eyes, your spiritual eyes see it as clearly as daylight; and you hold that vision close to your heart at all times, in joy and in sorrow. That is faith. That’s living by faith! And when you live by faith, is the evidence of that faith? Paul speaks of confidence in verse 8. This is the confidence that comes from faith— and it is a glorious kind of confidence. Why? Because it is the kind of confidence that wants to be at home with the Lord. In other words, it is the confidence of eternal life in and with the Lord Jesus. Those who live by faith and have such a confidence that eagerly desires to depart and be with the Lord reveal many things about themselves. They reveal that their faith is rooted in the resurrection itself. In other words, they live by resurrection faith with the same sense of victory the Lord Jesus lived by as he lived to serve and to please God with his own life. And they also reveal that they have no fear of death whatsoever! Death, this horrendous and monstrous enemy that has managed to bring even the greatest men and women in history to their knees in surrender, has lost his teeth and claws and no longer yields any fear in those with the confidence of faith. Paul lived by faith and had the confidence of eternal life, something he eagerly wanted to pass on to his children in Corinth.
Why is this so important for us to know? Because when death is conquered through the faith and confidence of the eternal life one is assured of in one’s heart, then you can begin to make it your goal to please God in your life. There are Christians and then there are Christians. Many Christians believe but are still trapped by the pall of death. Everything depresses them. Everything troubles them. Everything seems to oppress them and anger them and cause them sorrow and fear and distress and sends them into a state of helplessness in which they are all too often paralyzed to do anything pleasing to God. Although death has been swallowed up in victory, to them death is still the raging monster that exerts influence and unseen power over them day after day. Goliath was a form of death that oppressed Israel for 40 days until David arrived and saw Goliath as he really was, nothing but a huge opportunity for God to receive glorify through his defeat. For us Christians, in life all things are like this. Either we cower under the glare of a Goliath and hide, and if and when we do, we are helpless to do anything pleasing to God. Or because of faith and confidence in eternal life, like Paul and before him, Jesus, and before him, David, we see death and all its elements as big or small opportunities for God to glorify himself through their defeat. Paul tells us to work on our goals, to work hard on making it our goal to please God. We ought to work hard to please him. But we’ve got to live by faith and have the right kind of confidence. Then we can do all the things we should be doing for the Lord— the sacrifice— the dedication— the worship— the giving— and all that pleases him. And we will surely please him, when we don’t have death hanging over us with its fearful claws at every turn. Death is a real enemy. And I’m not talking about when the human heart stops. I’m talking about Satan’s power working to discourage us and stop us from pursuing the greatest goal we were made to pursue— pleasing God!
Like I said earlier, no one can excuse his or her own negligence pursing the goal of pleasing the Lord, just as no one can avoid the inevitable. And the Bible tells us what’s inevitable in verse 10 which we ought to read once more. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” Why did Paul speak of living by faith, and of being confident of eternal life and dwelling? And why does he then conclude with the urgency of making it every believer’s goal to pursue the purpose for which we were all created— to please the Lord in all that we are and do in life? The answers to these questions should be simple! “Because I love the Lord who loved me first with all of my being, and because it is my greatest privilege in life to please him”. But in addressing the Corinthian church, Paul had some divisive elements in the church to chastise. They had attacked his integrity as an Apostle and needed more than just a simple teaching to knock some sense into them. What they really needed was a reality check! They had received the gospel message through Paul’s preaching, loved and raised by him. It was all sheer grace and mercy that brought them out of Satan’s darkness into the light of Christ. Many of them daily lived with a repentant and thankful heart. But what happened to those who had begun to despise Paul and to attack him? Most likely they started taking God’s grace and mercy for granted, growing proud at heart until they were caught in the devil’s trap who deluded them with all kinds of lies. What they needed now was a reality check.
Yes, we live lives that are pleasing to God because we love God. But here’s the inevitable truth that no Christian can or should ignore nor shirk. Every Christian will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what is due him or her for the things they did in their Christian lives, whether good or bad. It’s our future reality and destiny. There is no escaping it. But before I go on, let me make it clear here that we must not confuse this “Judgment Seat Of Christ” with the “Great White Throne” we read about in Revelation (20:11-15). Before that Great white throne of Christ all who ever lived and died will gather to be judged according to their deeds, and when their names are not found in the book of life they will be judged with eternal condemnation. Thankfully, for us whose sins have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, there is no condemnation since our names are already in the book of life. But the Judgment seat of Christ is for the beleivers who will stand to be judged for their deeds. This is no threat to anyone’s salvation. But it is a reality check, and it should those whose disruptive actions, who have despised and maligned Paul have certainly displeased the Lord. Some heed the alarm and have enough sense to envision the day when we will stand before the Lord to give an accounting for what we’ve done with our Christian lives; An accounting for how the holy seed of desire to please him has been nurtured and taken care of! And of course, some will always choose to ignore the alarm no matter how often it blares in their ears! Some will embark on a venture to mend their ways and make it a goal to please him, and some will go on their merry way pleasing self and others as may befit the occasion. But regardless of what course we believers take, every one of us will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. And there is only now to prepare.
When the day comes to stand before the Seat Of Christ, God’s children, it will be the time for everyone’s works to be judged and rewarded. The Bible teaching on this subject is extensive. On that day, it would so be much better to meet before the Lord with a deep sense of pride and confidence rather than with a deep sense of shame and timidity, knowing that I did not pursue the what I knew in my heart the Lord wanted me to pursue, yet I kept putting them off just because of I didn’t feel like it. When the day comes to stand before the Seat Of Christ, the seat of revelation where all will be revealed and laid bare, what will be revealed and exposed before the eyes of our Christ? We can do anything in this world, say anything in this world, pretend anything in this world, behave in this manner or that manner in the eyes of world or in the eyes of our brothers and sisters; We can insist that we were right; We can swear that we said the truth; We can cry out for justice; We can promise to be faithful till death do us part; But when we stand before that Seat Of Christ, on that day the thoughts of our hearts will come to light, and every deed done as a Christian, every reason why we did what we did, every motive behind the deed, and the integrity of our character as we did what we did will be laid bare. It is far better that I serve with joy than with a grudge; far better that I forgive openly than hold bitterness within; it is far better that I rejoice prayerfully at my brother’s success than seethe inwardly with envy hating him behind his back. When I stand before that Seat to be judged, it would be far better if my works were revealed to be worthy of the Lord, rather than exposed as worthless in his sight. How can I face my Lord if all that I had done is deemed worthless! I am redeemed, yes, but I am like baggage steeling away into the Kingdom like a thief in the night. Lord, have mercy on us and help us to make it our goal to please you in our lives. Discipline us day by day to devote our lives to giving the best in everything we have towards a life that is pleasing to you in every way. Amen. Read verses 9-10 again. “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”