The trials faced by believers can be overwhelming at times (4:7-15) and Paul wrote to encourage the Corinthians to keep the proper perspective during hardship. Although the physical body is worn down through trials and persecution and is getting closer to death with each passing day (4:16a), the inner man is being renewed day by day through the power of Christ (4:16b). Adversity should not cause those who believe in Christ to quit or give up because there is a guarantee of eternal life and reward (4:17-18). Paul continues this thought by reminding the Corinthians that the physical body (Paul calls it a tent) will eventually be destroyed, but the destruction of that body will give way to a new body fashioned by divine hands (5:1). All believers desire to be freed from the weak and frail bodies which have been torn apart by sin (5:2-6) so they can inherit eternal life in the presence of God. This is a reality we accept by faith (5:7) and Paul writes in confidence that absence from the physical body will be followed by eternity with God (5:8).
Until the physical body is finally destroyed by death, the follower of Christ should make it his or her “aim” to please God through living in obedience because “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (5:10). Every believer is held accountable to God for the way he has lived his life. This judgment is not a judgment for sin (Christ paid for sin on the cross), but a judgment concerning things accomplished for the sake of God during their time on earth. Knowing that he would be held accountable for his life, Paul spent his time persuading men to be reconciled to God (5:11; 5:20).
Paul was willing to do anything, even if it appeared crazy to the false teachers (5:12-13), to persuade men to believe in Jesus Christ, who died for sin and rose again to secure eternal life (5:14-15). Paul believed that all men were valuable in the eyes of God and could experience new life in Christ and be freed from the power of sin (5:17). When a person experiences new life in Christ, God gives that individual the “ministry of reconciliation,” meaning that they can participate in proclaiming to sinners that they can be reconciled (made right) with God through belief in the death of Jesus Christ for sin (5:18-20). Paul then summarizes the message believers are to proclaim to those who have not yet believed, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (5:21).
Dear God, thank You for a future hope in Your presence, but I also pray that You would use me to proclaim reconciliation to sinners.