“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.” – 2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV)

I was intimately introduced to this verse as I was reading church history some years ago. I do not remember the specific source, unfortunately. But I distinctively remember the reference to this passage and the story related to it.

Jonathan Edwards was sharply criticized during the Great Awakening. But in spite of the unfair and unwarranted attacks, Edwards never responded. He never tried to defend himself. And he never attacked his critics in return. His only statement was a reference to 2 Corinthians 5:10. Rather than continuing or escalating the controversy, he simply concluded, “I know in my heart what is true. And I will wait for the judgment seat of Christ to bear me out.”

2 Corinthians 5:10 has been one of my “life verses” every since I read that story (Yes, from the source I can’t remember). And it has been on my mind and heart quite a bit over the past week.

There are times when we want to explain ourselves, defend our actions, or justify our decisions. Sometimes, this is absolutely the right thing to do. After all, 2 Corinthians, the most personal of Paul’s New Testament letters, is a defense of his spiritual authenticity and ministerial credibility in response to would-be leaders in the church at Corinth who were trying to undermine his influence. So there is a place for defending ourselves. And we should explain ourselves to those we are accountable to. But there are other times when we must quietly do what is right before God and let the judgment seat of Christ bear us out.

Now, we should never use this principle to side-step appropriate accountability. But we should allow 2 Corinthians 5:10 to remind us that our final and ultimate “job review” will be performed by the Lord, not by people – neither those who shoot us down nor those who cheer us on.

May our consuming passion and priority always be to hear the Lord say, “Well done, God and faithful servant…”