Picture an awards ceremony at the Olympic Games. The top three athletes are called to the rewards platform to receive their prizes. They are the coveted gold, silver, or bronze medals for each category of the games. Who will be the recipients of these awards that took years of physical and mental training? Will all the time and effort spent pay off? Whose Wheaties Box image will be the next to greet us in the morning? What about the time and effort we, ordinary folks, expend daily in this life? Why should we continue to press on if we only have an obscure, unimaginable award waiting for us after this life is over?
Have you ever heard of “paying it forward”? It’s a pretty common theme in this culture. To “Pay it Forward” means: when someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else. Admittedly it’s a rather non-committal way to do a good deed. Anonymously paying for the lunch for the person in line behind you at McDonald’s may not seem earth shattering. But, when many believers in Jesus live lives in loving sacrifice, the results can cause a large scale tsunami of His light to wash over the world. So, when we think about Paying it Forward to Jesus, we learn to understand that our rewards are both physical and eternal. That means, when we continue to do all things heartily as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, we are accumulating ‘award payments’ to be received at the judgment seat of Christ. (Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 CEB)
Only believers in Jesus Christ (John 3:16) will be judged at the bema (Greek: judgment seat). Our eternal rewards are REAL. There are heavenly crowns that await us, not brimstone and fiery judgment!
Romans 14:10 (NKJV) For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (AMP) For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].
So, what are these crowns (worthy rewards) …. and, how can we achieve them? There are 5 eternal crowns available to us: 1) the crown of rejoicing; 2) the crown of life; 3) the crown of glory; 4) the crown of mastery; and 5) the crown of righteousness.
The following questions will help us in considering these heavenly rewards:
1. What has my purpose and motive been in life since becoming a Christian?
2. What have I been keeping myself “busy with”? Where has my attention been placed? What am I daily striving to accomplish?
3. Have I testified to others about Jesus Christ and why I accepted Him as my Lord?
4. Have I been ‘looking unto Jesus’ the author and finisher of my faith?
5. Have I disciplined my body and endeavored to keep it well and wholesome, as the temple of the Holy Spirit?
6. Have I been a faithful steward of the gifts / talents the Lord has given me?
7. Have I ever suffered persecution for my faith in Jesus Christ?
8. Have I lived a life in view of Christ’s return?
If you have tried and are continuing to try to live and do these things, then you will receive rewards at the judgment seat of Christ!
1 Thessalonians 2:19 (TLB)
For what is it we live for, that gives us hope and joy and is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back again.
The crown of rejoicing is given as a reward for winning others to Christ. Our rejoicing and boasting is because we know that we will be with that person for all eternity, together with the Lord!
James 1:12 (AMPC) Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
Revelation 2:10b (ESV) Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The crown of life is awarded to those who have suffered persecution, persevered and been tested, and their love for Christ has not wavered.
1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV)
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
The crown of glory is given to those who have faithfully overseen those put under their leadership in the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (AMP)
Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].
The crown of mastery is awarded to those who have disciplined the body and been victorious over it.
2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)
Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.
All who have lived life in view of Christ’s return will be given the crown of righteousness.
Is it possible to achieve all these heavenly crowns? How can I think about them today with the crises (illness, financial situation, etc.) facing me and my family? Again, please review the questions above that all of us need to consider. The Lord is faithful and will make a way for you to persevere and be victorious in Him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
You will be able to declare as Timothy did in 2 Timothy 4:7 (AMPC): I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.
~ Joanne & Sarah
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