Psalm 8:5 “You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor.“
When discussions about rewards in Heaven occur the idea of receiving a crown is usually followed with the promise that every believer will lay their crowns at the feet of Jesus. It makes sense to me, knowing who I am apart from Christ reminds me of all that Christ as done in me.
When Jesus called His people to follow, they listened and obeyed. When Jesus wanted to transform them into His image, they also had to learn it is a process of trust and obedience. When God calls His people to go into all the world to preach gospel, making disciples, and being salt and light, these endeavors are first directed by the Spirit and then accomplished through the strength that He supplies.
I really can’t think of anything in the life of a believer worthy of reward that Jesus didn’t first begin. Laying the crown of righteousness at the feet of Jesus will seem like an obvious recognition of His glory and faithfulness.
What about the other rewards the Bible speaks of, how does anything compare to being in the presence of God?
We will first be in Heaven and then eventually on a new Earth. The New Jerusalem will have streets of gold, precious jewels in its walls, gates of pearl, crystal flowing water coming from the throne of God with trees of life growing along its bank—how can anything carry any greater value in such a place?
There will be so much of great value in Heaven and yet on earth we are reminded of how valuable people are.
God’s Value System
Isaiah 62:3 “You will be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem in the palm of your God.”
There is nothing more valuable in life than people. Regardless if people have accepted Christ or rejected His love, their value does not diminish. For the people who respond to God’s call, the product of Jesus’ investment into their lives will bear a reward–for Him. These people, who are members of the Kingdom of God are the reward Jesus has earned by His great sacrifice upon the cross. When Jesus arose from the dead, He made a way for His people to be transformed from death to life, then at the end of the age, Jesus’ glory will be made evident.
The beauty of God’s plan is found in the relationship with His people. The Bible says the saints will become a crown of glory in His hand and yet we also see how Jesus will be the ultimate reward to all those saints who walk faithfully in Him.
Isaiah 28:5 “In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people”
Along the path of life lies opportunity to invest into the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that has no end and a reward that will endure forever.
The crowns of life are the opportunities given to God’s people who choose to live faithfully.
Crown of Perseverance
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Trial comes by way of many challenges in life, while the enemy stops at nothing to discourage those who live their faith out loud. There are many people undergoing persecution for taking a stand for faith and they can be sure their efforts are not being overlooked by God. Many others have faltered the moment times become difficult but for those who endure, a crown of reward awaits their graduation day.
Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!”
The encouragement to remain steadfast is to stand firm in faith, this gives a testimony for others to see. It’s these faithful who are marked in the Halls of Faith, going forth joyfully into trouble knowing the Lord will never leave them or forsake them.
2 Timothy 2:3-5 “Join me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him. Likewise, a competitor does not receive the crown unless he competes according to the rules.”
Weeping may last for the night but there will be joy in the morning. To all my brothers and sisters in Christ who give of their lives daily for the Kingdom, I pray for your strength to persevere.
Crown of Righteousness
Walking in righteousness is to walk according to God’s moral law. Obedience is the test of character that reveals a believers heart of trust. Trusting in God’s standard of righteousness is to trust that His way is good, that He is leading along the way, and that He will be found faithful as you go.
2 Timothy 4:8 “From now on 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 to all who crave His appearing.”
Those who walk in righteousness show a genuine love for God.
To anxiously await the Lord’s return is to rest in hope for relief from this world, a world that grows darker by the day. There are those who don’t just idly wait for redemption, they live out their faith in righteousness and truth, it is these who will be honored one day.
The Martyr’s Crown
Revelation 2:10 “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown”
For the ones who pay the ultimate price of faithfulness with their lives, the martyr’s crown will be their reward. It takes a selfless ambition to glorify God in the midst of threat to life and liberty. For these heroes of the faith there awaits the applause of Heaven.
Beginning with Stephen we can witness the true hope of salvation lived out in people who are willing to die for their faith. Martyrdom doesn’t guarantee a place in glory, Jesus already provided that, but it does reveal a heart that has been transformed by the love of Christ.
When Stephen was being stoned to death he looked up and saw Jesus standing in power and authority, he was not forsaken in death, the Lord welcomed him with open arms.
Why God allows His saints to die young is beyond my understanding, I’ve witnessed the legacy of faith that has continued on in others and I’ve seen these blessed martyrs graduate into a place of rest, removed from evil. Regardless of God’s reasoning you can be rest assured that no one dies prematurely.
Crown of Discipline
1 Corinthians 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
There are those who live peaceful quiet lives that are unassuming to this world. They choose to be found faithful, even when no one is watching. The things these faithful servants dwell upon are good things, they pray for others out of a love that brings little worldly applause, they think of others throughout their day; a dinner for a grieving neighbor, a cake for others to enjoy, or a small note of kindness just right on time.
Self-Discipline may seem simple to others but for those who have attempted to live out every part of their lives faithfully, it’s more difficult than it looks.
These sweet, gentle, people of God have a reward awaiting them that is no less significant that any other crown in Heaven.
Proverbs 16:31 “A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.”
I am always enamored by saints who have lived long full lives, watching their faith is like seeing a tall oak tree that has grown roots strong and deep. The faith exhibited by these saints is what good discipline looks like, keeping themselves away from evil and being found faithful in the small matters of life.
Regardless of what crowns or awards await God’s people, we remember that Jesus’ crown was first a crown of thorns. This crown was the best the world can give, it was by this crown we His people have been given life.
The suffering, persecution, steadfast spirit, discipline, and righteousness that Jesus exemplified in His life is the same path He has called us to walk. There will be plenty of time to enjoy all of the rewards that are to come, until then we must keep our eyes on Christ and be found faithful until He comes.