When we talk of a crown today, we may think of a golden headdress, embedded with jewels, worn by a king or queen. But a crown can also be the reward for victory; it may be given to the champion in a sport. In ancient sports, it would have been a wreath placed on the head of the winner of a race to honor the victor. It is in this sense that it is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” The winners in a physical race would have received a wreath of olive branches and leaves; this crown would soon decay and perish. The winners in the spiritual race receive a crown that lasts throughout eternity.
The crown we are to receive is the crown of life. Jesus told the apostle John to write the following to the church in Smyrna. Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” These brethren in Smyrna were to suffer many trials and tribulations as you and I must suffer. But if they were faithful until death, they would receive the crown of life; they would receive eternal life. James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” This crown of life is given to you if don’t give up when suffering trials and tribulations but you endure until the end.
The crown we are to receive is the crown of righteousness. Near the end of the Apostle Paul’s live, he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 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.” One who finishes and wins a race receives a crown; the apostle anticipated a crown as well after his life was over. It is a crown given for righteousness. Jesus Christ is righteous and has given us His righteousness because of our faith and obedience to the gospel. Even so, He has saved us so that we would live righteous lives in this world.
The crown we are to receive is the crown of glory. The apostle Peter wrote to the elders/pastors/overseers in 1 Peter 5:2-4 “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Yes, elders will receive the crown of glory. But it is not restricted to elders. All of us should anticipate our crown of glory.
Something that is glorious has great beauty and splendor. It is bright. It is magnificent. It is characterized by great honor. The crown of glory describes the state of blessedness which faithful believers are to enter after this life. It is appropriate for you to seek for this crown of glory. Romans 2:7-10 (God will give) “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
The body we will receive is glorious. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Philippians 3:20-21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
The crown of glory we will receive is going to be worth remaining faithful. Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” I hope you can appreciate the glory you will receive. Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” When Christ returns, we will receive this glory. Colossians 3:4 “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
My encouragement to you is to never give in to unrighteousness or be discouraged by trials and tribulations. Be faithful until death to receive the crown of life. It is an imperishable crown. It is the crown of righteousness. It is the crown of glory. Don’t let anyone take your crown. Revelation 3:11 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”