2 Corinthians 5:9
9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
The apostle Paul had been explaining the future glory that awaits all Christians. He also spoke about how Christians ought to bear their bodily afflictions on this earth as they awaited their heavenly abode. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).
Having persuaded his readers of their blessed hope, Paul here said, “Wherefore we labour”. The Greek word for “labour” (philotiméomai) has the idea of exerting oneself out of a love or sense of honour. We endure all our hardships and serve our LORD, who shall receive us soon to His glorious presence. Our future glory is a great motivation for enduring afflictions as we strive to do all His will on this earth.
When the Lord returns, all our works, be they good or bad, will be revealed before Him. At that time, He will reward us according to our deeds. So Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
In a similar vein, Paul exhorted in Hebrews 10:35-37, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Furthermore, in Hebrews 12:28, he reassured the believers, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”.
We look forward to be “present” (or be at home) with the Lord. However, now being “absent” (or away from home) from the Lord, our greatest desire is that He may be well-pleased when He examines our works at His second coming. The Greek word for “accepted” has the idea of “well-pleasing”. May the Lord “make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:21).