Years ago I heard a sermon that described the crowns believers can receive as a result of our actions/deeds on the earth. Scripture teaches we lay these crowns at Jesus feet (Rev 4:10). Pastor after pastor chides us how terrible it would be to have nothing to put at our Lord’s feet. I examined the crowns mentioned in one sermon I heard and picked one to run to gain. To those who know me, it’s obvious the one I chose. There is a crown for loving Christ’s return. The other crowns as I listened required suffering and endurance and soul winning, and I am admitting my lazy cowardice here when I say I was intimidated by those. I reasoned I can say with John, “Come, Lord Jesus”.
I made a mistake. I listened to the sermon and didn’t pick up my Bible and read the scripture for myself. There is more there. Our pastor preached a similar sermon on Sunday, so I have fresh notes to which to refer. He listed the crowns as the incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:24), the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the crown of life (James 1:12), the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19) and the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4).
The crown of my “selection” was the crown of righteousness described in 2 Timothy 4:8. But let me show you the entire paragraph and not just the part I heard.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Notice Paul mentions a fight and a course and having kept the faith. There was a “cross” if you will before this crown. It was not just about “loving His return”. I have since learned a valuable lesson. Those who most want Jesus to return are those who are fighting and are battered, those who are running and their lungs and legs burn with exhaustion, those whose faith is challenged. Those who don’t want to call this corrupted world home are the ones who are looking for His return. I’m one of those. Crosses are invisible. You probably don’t know your pastor’s, and you may not know your spouse’s. However, He commands each of us “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me”. (Luke 9:23)
So, saint, I just want to warn you, there is no crown without a cross (not that I have obtained one!!) There is no fellowship with Christ without fellowship in His suffering. However, there is a beautiful purpose. You begin to desire a city whose builder and maker is God. When you get your eye on the prize, you can really run.