Crowns of Righteousness

ishot_55Today’s Scripture: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8)

Paul wrote these words as he was nearing the end of his days on earth.  As he looked back on his Christian experience, he could acknowledge the fact that he had fought a good fight.  He had finished the race that had been laid out for him to run.  He had no regrets.  Though he did not claim perfection for himself, he confidently and boldly declared that he had given all he had to give.  He had kept the faith without wavering or faltering.  As the result of his faith in Christ and his faithfulness to Christ, Paul says in verse 8 that there is a “crown of righteousness” reserved for him by the Lord Jesus.

The word for “crown” was used to refer to plaited wreaths or garlands that were placed on the heads of military victors or winners of athletic contests.  It was an indicator of great honor, much in the same way that medals are placed around the necks of Olympic champions.  Paul was looking for the crown of “righteousness” which refers to the righteousness of Christ that is given to the believer.  Though his salvation was a free gift which he received by God’s grace through faith, Paul also looked for the future reward that would be his as the result of his faithfulness to Jesus.  A person who knows Christ’s redemption will also show interest in Christ’s reward.

One day, there will be individual rewards that we will or will not receive, and these rewards are based on the faithfulness that we show.  The day will come when believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ where we will be recompensed for the deeds we have done in life, whether they be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).  Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we faithfully obey our Lord in this life.  There are eternal rewards and consequences at stake.  How tragic it will be for us to stand before Jesus and say, “If only I would have been more faithful!”  The believer who squanders his God-given opportunities will regret it at the judgment seat.  If you waste the opportunity to win your friends and family to Christ, there will be no second chance for you to do so after they are gone.  If you are hesitant to respond to God’s call on your life in some area, you will live to regret it at the judgment seat.

Like Paul, when I stand before Jesus one day, I want to do so without any regrets.  I want it to be said of my life that I fought the good fight, I finished my race, and I kept the faith.  Only then can I anticipate future reward.  The crown of righteousness was not specific to Paul, but he wants us to know in verse 8 that it belongs to all of those who love Christ’s appearing.  That is, the crown is reserved for every believer who faithfully lives for Jesus and eagerly awaits His return.

“Lord Jesus, today we focus on living for You alone.  Enable and empower us by Your Spirit to make the most of every opportunity that You give to us to love our families, to worship and grow, to share the gospel, and to enjoy fellowship with You and other believers.  Amen.”

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