In this passage, Paul continues his thought on why he had hope in the midst of trial.
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (1)
Whereas Paul compared our bodies to jars of clay in chapter four, he now compares our bodies to tents. And he says these bodies we live in are just as temporary and flimsy as a tent. It will not last. But even if they’re destroyed, we have hope. Why? Because we know that we will have another dwelling that is much stronger and will endure forever.
Here he is talking about our resurrection bodies which he talks about in I Corinthians 15, bodies that will never get sick or die. But he says that while we have this hope,
We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2-4)
In other words, we have hope that we’ll not be mere spirits after we die but will actually have new bodies. But until then, we groan. And as we suffer in this body we are in now, we long to have our new body, knowing that when we receive it, all our weaknesses and sufferings will be gone.
Why in the midst of our troubles can we have this hope? Because God has given us his guarantee on it. Paul says,
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (5)
In short, it was God’s purpose from the very beginning to give us this new life in him, and to assure us that it will happen, he has sent his Spirit into our hearts. And each day, the Spirit whispers to us that we are God’s children and works in us each day to transform us into the likeness of Christ. And as we hear his voice and see his work in us, we find hope.
Because of this, Paul writes,
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. (6-7)
I like the way the ESV puts verse 6. We are always “of good courage.” We know that we are only away from the Lord for just a little while. We will see him. And so each day, we live by faith with these things in mind. That in turn affects the way we live each day.
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, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (9-10)
Because we know that we will see Christ some day, because we know that we will one day be judged for how we live our lives, we make it our goal to please him. We no longer live to please ourselves, but to please him.
So though we may groan through our trials and struggles, let us keep the end in mind. We will be with the Lord some day and all things will be made new. So let us make it our goal to please him each day. And if we do, on judgment day, we will have no need to be ashamed.
How are you living your life? With temporary things in view? Or with the eternal?