The Expository Files

 "Our Ambition"

2 Corinthians 5:9

The fact of Christ's resurrection gives us confidence in our own resurrection - (1 Corinthians 15:12,20). For the righteous in Christ, the resurrection will be a joyous union with Christ as He and the angels escort us to our new eternal home in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:23-26; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).

The confidence of being raised to be with Christ is extremely important to the Christian - we need to be confident in our victory so that we might be motivated to live faithfully (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). So, the goal of any faithful disciple is summed up in the following words: "Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Our goal, or ambition, is to please the Lord. While each of us have many other goals, this one must be chief if we are what we ought to be. Pleasing the Lord takes priority over all others for those who live and think according to His word.

The Successful Attempt To Please God
The Christian has the privilege of being "well pleasing" to God. Some seem to think that pleasing the Lord is practically impossible. It probably is with that attitude. But it is good news that we can choose to please the Lord and be successful at it. We can prove what God's will is for us and then comply: "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1,2). But it is we who must make the attempt (see also Ephesians 5:10).

Walking To Please God
"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;" (Colossians 1:9,10). There are a number of things suggested in this passage that are entailed in pleasing God. Note them briefly:

Filled with knowledge of His will- First, we need to know what God expects of us. This comes by studying His revealed will.
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord- We need to apply the things we learn to our lives and live accordingly.
Worthy of the Lord in all respects- We need to be willing to apply His will to all aspects of our lives. For example, we need to be honest in all circumstances.
Bear fruit in every good work- We need to be involved in doing the good things He has given us to do. Being faithful means being productive.
Increase in the knowledge of God- Finally, we keep on learning and growing. We do not stop maturing in Christ, becoming more like Him and more skillful in carrying out His will.

God's Appraisal of Us
Our aim is not to please ourselves, but God who has redeemed us. Many are satisfied with less out of themselves than God is. Paul wrote concerning himself, "For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord." (1 Corinthians 4:4). His point was that his justification and his hope had to do with God's appraisal of himself. It is the same way with us.

Paul had his detractors and his supporters. But none of their evaluations of Paul mattered much. Paul would not be saved or lost; successful or failure, based on their evaluations. And even though Paul had a clear conscience, he realized that the only evaluation that truly mattered was God's. The only alternative to pleasing God is to suffer God's wrath - (Romans. 2:4,5).Pleasing God involves more than a mere desire. It also requires adequate knowledge (Ephesians 5:17). It involves using this knowledge as we make correct moral and spiritual choices in our lives (Ephesians 5:10). We need to make conscious choices between the right and wrong; the wise and unwise.

An Eternal Ambition
Pleasing God - that for which the Christian lives - is a goal which does not end with death. Look again at our text: "Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." (2 Corinthians 5:9).

The idea of being "at home or absent" in the context of this verse has to do with being at home with the Lord following death or absent from the Lord while still on earth living in our bodies. In both cases, whether here or there, the ambition of the faithful is still the same, "to be pleasing to Him." This means that we continue to have purpose and goals in eternity. Our state and surroundings change, but our goal is to glorify God and thus share in His glory (Romans 14:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:10). Even in heaven we will have productive lives with goals and aims, satisfying and fulfilling. There will be things to do, places to go, endeavors to partake in glories untold. What more noble, honorable purpose could there be than to please God?

The Christian makes it his "aim" to be well pleasing to God. "Ambition" or "aim" comes from a Greek word which means "to have as one's ambition, to act from a love of honor." The Christian strives, labors, aspires to please God - doing so is the height of his ambition, his supreme intent. This is an all-encompassing goal - that whatever we do in word or deed we do in His name (Colossians 3:17). Pleasing God is a matter of deliberate choice. It requires premeditation, a studied effort. It means I must be willing to disappoint men (including self) in order to please God. Paul wrote: "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10). A faithful man or woman of God does not consult opinion polls to decide what to teach. They consult God's standard. The disciple needs to settle his priorities and consciously decide that pleasing God is his most important consideration.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 8.11; November 2001