2Co 5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2Co 5:10 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.
The word translated “aim” or “labor” (KJV) literally means to love honor. It is used for the idea of ambition, the goals ones has in life. Paul isn’t speaking of being at home or away on a trip but the context is whether imperfectly in this body or perfectly in the Lord’s presence he only has one goal; pleasing God.
The word “ambition” generally has a bad connotation in Christianity because it usually is used to speak of someone who is consumed with a goal he has set for himself that has little to do with God and everything to do with doing what he wants to do. The term “blind ambition” speaks to someone who is so consumed with his goal that he can’t see the negative effects it is having on his life. Blind ambition that sets its goals on temporal things will always lead to compromise in convictions and character. But Paul uses this word many times in a good way and it isn’t difficult to see this in the above verses. Our first duty and highest goal is to glorify the Lord. From this we understand that every other goal or pursuit in life must be subservient to that one. This is easy to say but it is also easy to get twisted in our thinking.
Clearly everyone has goals in life that aren’t overtly spiritual, such as a man looking for a job so he can have a family. In fact, both the job and the family are both worthy goals. But all such goals must be subservient to the ultimate goal to serve the Lord or they immediately become idols regardless of their legitimacy.
As in the example above, a man might set his aim in life in a certain career and say that it is to support his family and the church. These are things that we to do in life and both are important for our wellbeing physically, emotionally and spiritually. But if said career keeps him from having a proper relationship with his wife and family and keeps him away from church and from ministering to both groups then any attempt to justify it by saying it is for God’s glory is just vain talk. Clearly his ambition is neither his family nor the Lord but himself.
I can’t number the men that I have known through the years that have justified working on Sundays and long hours in which they are unable to have a proper relationship with their wives and children and in which they are basically strangers to the other members of the church by saying, “Well, I have to support my family, or the job requires it or I have committed myself to this company and I can’t let them down, I don’t want to be a quitter.”
Well what about your commitment to Christ, his Body and your family? What is the point of this job if you all you can do is feed and clothe your family but the relationship falls apart? My answer would be that it is time to quit your job and find one that fits into your goal of seeking the kingdom of God first and his righteousness. If it means you have to live in a meager house and drive an older car so what. Some might say but I went to school for this or this is what I want to do in life. Well, we can’t always have what we want in this life that is part of taking up our cross and following Christ. If being “fulfilled” in a career is the most important thing and worth giving up everything else then I don’t know what Jesus meant when he said to take up your cross and follow me. At the end of the day what are your goals in life? If it is about the Lord’s work your decisions will be made based on what serves him and your spiritual life and your family’s spiritual life the best. What good is it to live in a mansion on earth but have no room in Heaven for eternity?
If your goal in life is a career, don’t be surprised when your marriage fails, your children are a disappointment (they turn out like you), you think church is a waste of time because it isn’t making you money and one day you might hear, “Depart from me I never knew you”! Paul’s aim was to please Christ. If this is our aim we will bring our lives under control to that end, not the selfish ends of our own desires.
You cannot express a greater love to your wife and family than to lead them to Christ and help to build them up in the faith and this even before you provide for their physical needs. If we can have a great career and have financial success in this life and use it to further Christ in our life and that of our family then praise the Lord. But if it is our highest goal it is simple idolatry.