The Victor’s Crown
Read 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth 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.
According to Paul, who will receive a crown of righteousness when Jesus returns?
Is there anything more inspiring than an Olympic medal ceremony? The winning athletes stand on the podium to be honored while their national anthem plays. You can see the pride on their faces as they realize that after all of their hard work, determination, and sacrifice, they actually did it! Many of them get emotional as they bow down to receive their prize. A medal is placed around their necks and they raise their arms in victory!
In today’s verse, Paul says he is looking forward to the moment he receives a reward as well. The word “crown” is not like a kingly crown or diadem. Instead, it is like an athlete’s laurel wreath—a crown of leaves that symbolizes victory. Paul says he knows there is a crown of righteousness laid up for him. But not just for him. For everyone who is looking forward to Christ’s appearing.
Jesus is the One who gave us the victory over sin and death on cross. We did nothing to earn that victory! And yet, everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus is saved and will experience eternal life. Paul knows that his earthly struggles will all be worth it the moment he is ushered into the Lord’s presence because he knows he has a reward waiting for him. While he was living, he faithfully served Jesus Christ and eagerly awaited his appearing. Likewise, everyone who is longing for Christ’s return will experience that incredible moment when they receive their crown.
Sadly, not everyone is longing for Christ’s return. Not everyone is going to receive an eternal reward. Romans 2:6-9 says, “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil.”
Revelation is more specific about the wrath and fury those who reject Christ can expect to receive. In Revelation 20:15, John wrote: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Friends, we have a choice. We can accept Christ and live faithfully for Him until He returns or we can reject Him and live only for ourselves. Eternal reward or eternal punishment—the choice is ours. I have chosen Christ and I eagerly await the day Jesus gives me my victor’s crown. How about you?
Jesus, I am so undeserving and yet, You have earned the victory for me! Thank You for giving me eternal life, through Your death and resurrection. And for rewarding me with the underserved honor of sharing with You in Your glory forever. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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