“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 NASB
Ambition has been known to be a blessing or a curse. It’s not that ambition is good or bad, rather it’s what’s behind the motivation. Is it Spirit-directed and God-managed, or is it self-driven and self-centered.
An ambition is the moving motivation to achieve some distinction or rank. It is a drive to achieve something that distinguishes us from others. Many persons in school are motivated to graduate with honors. Those laude honors (cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude) indicate a level of distinction one’s academic degree has been earned. Yet it has been said that some of us come out happy with a “thank you laude.”
Associated with ambition is something called aspiration. An aspiration is a longing for something. I think we all had childhood aspirations of what we wanted to become in life.
In this 2 Corinthians passage, the Apostle Paul highlights the highest aspiration and the honorable ambition of the Christian life. The ambition is stated straightforward in verse 9 and is tied to an aspiration he unfolds in verses 6-8.
The term “ambition” in verse 9 carries the idea of having a love of honor, or to value what is honorable, to be ambitious of honor, earnestly striving to do something of honor. The honorable ambition in life is to please God. Pleasing God is a heartfelt commitment.
Of things that are important in life, it’s more important to please God than to please people. Having been entrusted with the Gospel, Paul said his purpose was to please God, not people (1 Thessalonians 2:4). When you please God, it doesn’t matter whom you displease. Conversely, when you displease God, it doesn’t matter whom you please.
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, God gave his approval of Jesus stating “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus made it clear his aim was to do the things that please the Father (John 8:29).
Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22, 24). His walk with God was such that he made the hall of honor, which states that Enoch pleased God (Hebrews 11:5).
This ambition of pleasing the Lord is an outcome or the “therefore” (verse 9) of the Christian’s aspiration (verses 6-8).
We are not to misinterpret our being absent or away from the Lord in an absolute sense. If that was the case, then our present fellowship with God would be illusionary and a hindrance to our spirituality and connection with Christ. Our residence in our human bodies is a temporal, spatial separation from the Lord. We yet have fellowship with God, but it’s not by sight because of our earthly bodily residence. In fact, the Lord is present with us for we walk with the Lord in the realm of faith.
Our highest aspiration, our strongest longing is to be present with the Lord for it will be the highest form of intimate fellowship with Christ than we currently experience being away from the Lord.
The ambition of pleasing the Lord is truly supreme due to the realization that our earthly service while in the body will be judged after death at the judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. He can be reached at email@example.com.