When I was sixteen my grandparents surprised me with a brand new car.
It was totally unexpected and unrequested. I was so shocked when the gift was revealed to me that I started uncontrollably crying like one of those people on Oprah who just found out their long lost relative was backstage.
This was uncharacteristic of both of us (me personally not being someone who cries in public). As for them, I’d learned from my grandparents’ frugal ways my entire life. I’d noticed how they didn’t buy things new, they paid cash for things, and made really good uses of their resources. Being so young and being given something so valuable and new, it meant even more to me.
I spent that night overwhelmed with how I could ever thank them enough or pay them back for their kindness. Their hard work and years of sacrifice to provide a better life for us meant the world to me.
I don’t have that car any more. I traded it for an Accord, then a 4-runner, and now I drive an 8 year old dented up, but paid for, Toyota van. (I’ve not forgotten my conservative roots). I say all of this to say, as nice of a gift as this was, so much so that I still reap the benefits of their kindness today, it was still just a temporal thing.
A month or so ago when I read the words in 2 Timothy 4 afresh, this story came to mind, and I wondered how I’d react when the God of the universe presents me with a crown I didn’t ask for, or deserve, or earn?
“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.”2 Timothy 4: 8
I think this is why John (one of Jesus’ best friends) said this about his vision in Revelation:
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last”Revelation 1:17
Isaiah had a similar reaction:
“And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”Isaiah 6: 4
When I think about receiving a crown of righteousness from Jesus, my Righteousness, I think of this verse.
“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”Romans 3:10-12
That is why I believe we will be compelled to cast the crowns we receive at His feet as the elders do in Revelation 4.
“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,Revelation 4:9-11
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
That’s what it will be like in Heaven.
I did a little digging to find out what the crowns that we may receive will be.
Imperishable Crown (for followers of Christ)
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Crown of Rejoicing (for those who Evangelize outside of the Church)
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”1 Thessalonians 2:19
Crown of Righteousness (for those Longing for Jesus’ Appearing)
“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.”2 Timothy 4:8
Crown of Glory (for Faithful Ministers)
“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”1 Peter 5:4
Crown of Life (Those who suffer for His Name’s sake)
“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.”James 1:12
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”Revelation 2:10