So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 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.
“[Christians] are unknown, and they are condemned. They are put to death, and they gain life. They are poor, but make many rich; they are destitute, but have an abundance of everything.” —Letter to Diognetus (2nd century AD)
Summary – Having just explained the apostolic teaching on a Christian’s view towards persecution–that a Christian can have hope through troubles since their body will be raised and redeemed after their death–Paul moves to seal up the passage with a motivation to righteousness. Since the Spirit is our guarantee of eternal life (5:5) we can be of good courage (5:6). There is a reason for doing good works: we do them by faith (5:7) to please God with our lives (5:9). And there is reward or punishment for the things we do with our lives (5:10).
Insight – Has anyone ever told you, “It doesn’t really matter what you do. You can just do anything you want and there is nothing bad that can happen.” Does this match up with what the Bible teaches us? This passage teaches us otherwise. It is true that we can be forgiven of our sins, but it is not true that what we do does not matter. St. Paul tells us that we will receive “what is due” for what we have done in our lives. But we should also remember that the reward for our efforts may not come in this life: we receive “what is due” after this life is over. This is good reason to be “of good courage.” Jesus has overcome the world, so we do not lose heart, and can faithfully follow Him in our daily lives.
Child Catechism – What is your goal in life? To please God in everything I do.
Discussion – When Paul says, “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (5:8), does he mean that our goal is to leave our physical body forever? Why or why not? (see 4:14 and 5:4)
Prayer – Lord give us courage to live in ways that please you. Give us the faith to walk faithfully, even though we cannot see with our eyes what our final reward looks like. Thank you that we can trust in your grace and your sovereign power. In Christ’s name, Amen.