Obtaining An Incorruptible Crown
By Lois J. Stucky
The Apostle Paul exhorts us to so run the race of life as to receive an "incorruptible" crown – an immortal one, an imperishable one – shunning the corruptible one that the world highly values and for which it strains (1 Cor. 9:24-25). Paul used the example of athletes who determinedly denied themselves and trained vigorously in hopes of winning a wreath of victory. We are told that in Paul’s day the one winning the prize of the race received a crowning wreath made of plant life. All too soon its glory would fade away.
In contrast to a perishable crown, Paul urges every Christian born into the family of God, to strive for an incorruptible crown. In races of this world, there is normally one winner, but for the incorruptible crown, God has provided for and calls us all to be winners. In 2 Timothy 4:8 Paul writes of the "crown of righteousness" which God, the righteous judge, will one day give to "all them also that love His appearing." James writes, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him" (1:12).
Albert Barnes suggests in his commentary that the "crown of righteousness" is the reward of efforts to be personally holy and to spread the principles of holiness as far as possible through the world. Both Paul and James connect the crowns with our focus on Jesus – loving and longing for His appearing, and loving and trusting Him through the trials and tests of life. Let us keep our hearts set on closely following our Lord Jesus Christ!
Ponder our Lord’s footprints as He goes through Gethsemane, where His will was totally surrendered to God; to the Praetorium, where a "crown of thorns" was put on His head to mock and to humiliate Him; and then down the road to Calvary’s cross and to excruciating death. Oh, what a price our Lord and Savior paid to make it possible for us to one day wear an "incorruptible crown!" And although Christ paid a price none other could possibly pay to redeem mankind, there will be a price for those who strive for the incorruptible crown: including full surrender to God’s will, a humbling of proud self, and a "dying with Jesus by death reckoned mine," as the song expresses it.
Behold also how God has rewarded Christ following Calvary: Christ has "…gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (1 Pet. 3:22). God "hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
Incidentally, as I was writing the above lines, the chimes of a nearby church sounded out a tune, the words of which rang through my mind: "O that with yonder sacred throng we at His [Jesus’] feet may fall, we at His feet may fall! We’ll join the everlasting song and crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, and crown Him Lord of all!" (Edward Perronet; adapted by John Rippon). Hallelujah to Jesus! He so worthily wears an imperishable, an immortal crown, and to Him we owe everything for the imperishable crown we may be privileged to lay down at His feet! Blessed be our beloved Lord Jesus!
Read Ephesians chapters 4 and 5, where the Apostle Paul sets before us some of the things involved in gaining the crown of righteousness: putting off the "old man" and putting on the "new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness." Some things included are putting away lying, speaking the truth, not harboring anger, not giving place to the devil, stealing no more but giving to those in need, speaking only that which is edifying, grieving not the Holy Spirit of God, putting away bitterness, wrath, anger, evil speaking and malice; being kind, tender-hearted and forgiving one another. It is a "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor" (5:2). When we consider that as Christians, we are raised up and made to sit together "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6), ought we not to strive earnestly to walk worthy of such a calling? It is the walk in "righteousness and true holiness" which wins for us the imperishable crown.
Praise God with Us –
For the revelation God has given us of Himself in His Word so we can grasp at least something of this marvelous Being to whom we owe all we are and have.
For the privilege of uniting together with many Herald readers, to help spread messages from God’s Word far and wide, to help make Him and His salvation known. Thank God for His financial provision through generous Herald readers so mailings are nearly up-to-date at this writing!
Please Pray –
For the full blessing of God on the messages in this issue of Herald of His Coming, that they will be of significant help in stirring prayer and effort for revival in local churches as well as in the church around the world. "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." Pray the church will take seriously also the following words: "… if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Pet. 4:17-18). Pray the church will be stirred to win the lost!
For all being persecuted for Christ’s sake to receive grace to be faithful unto death that they might receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).