Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 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, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (5:6-10)
Paul is concluding this part of his defense of his ministry in these verses. The first thing we notice here is that in this, his final conclusion, he has dropped all of the metaphors, moving his descriptions to a clearer dichotomy: Either at home in the body or at home with the Lord.
While we live on this earth at home in our bodies, we live by faith, for we are not seeing our Lord directly and instead we have his Spirit within us as a deposit, a guarantee of what is coming. As we go through this life, we will desire to live in a manner that is pleasing in His sight, and thus we will want to ask His Spirit within us to guide us in all that we do; this is the natural and normal response of any reasonable follower of Christ.
We know that when our Lord returns, He will return to judge all humanity for what we have done, whether good or bad, so of course, we want to do only good. Clearly, Paul is winding up his subsection by implying that the very thing he has been attacked for doing in the church in Corinth, is what is good in God’s sight; preaching faithfully the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yet if we really think about it, these verses might beg a question: If we fall short, is Paul saying we are doomed?
To be quite honest with you, the answer to such a question depends entirely on how you approach the text. If you only read verse 10, you might get the idea that one little slip-up means you’re toast. The only problem is that verse 10 does not stand all alone, it is found in a larger context, and in that context, it is quite clear that Paul is telling us no such thing. We, along with Paul, would always want to do our best to be pleasing to God in the way we live, but remember that Jesus changed the paradigm on the cross. In fact, sharing that fantastic news is something that is always pleasing in God’s sight, and Paul’s whole point here is that in preaching Christ, while some people may not appreciate it very much, it is the one thing God always appreciates.
With that, Paul moves into the next subsection which is all about preaching the gospel of Christ.