Over the past two days, I have been trying to articulate some of my thoughts as I have been conducting annual reviews with those that work at Cornerstone Bible Church. At first, I asked the question, "Are you ready for the only review that matters?" While we may get worked up at our review by our employer, it is nothing compared to the ultimate review we will have with our Savior. The second day, I tried to dig a little deeper by trying to figure out what exactly will the review entail. We will give an account as stewards of all that God has given us.
Today, I want to add one more aspect to this thought. What are the rewards? What will we be given at this great review? First off, I am not sure I can fully answer that question. I can answer it to the best of my understanding of the Biblical text, but I am not going to say there are not other things that Christ might give as a reward (for instance, maybe positions of leadership in the Kingdom). But as I search out the Scriptures, there seem to be five different crowns that are talked about being given.
1. The Incorruptible Crown
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
The assumption is that this crown is for those who are disciplined in their Christian life like those who are disciplined in athletics.
2. The Crown of Rejoicing
"For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy." (1 Thess. 2:19-20)
Many people say this is a reward that is given to the evangelist, who faithfully shares the gospel and wins others to Christ.
3. The Crown of Righteousness
"Henceforth 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 also to all who have loved his appearing." (2 Tim. 4:8)
This seems to be given to those who love or look forward to the return of Christ. And of course, that sort of living will in fact purify our life, move us to deeper degrees of personal righteousness.
4. The Crown of Life
"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." (Jas 1:12; see also Rev. 2:10)
This is given to those who love Jesus more than anything else in their life, even their own body. So that even in temptation and pain and suffering, they choose Jesus over their physical flesh.
5. The Crown of Glory
"Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." (1 Peter 5:2-4)
This obviously seems to be given to the faithful shepherds who give their lives to shepherd the flock of God.
Will there be other rewards? Probably. Even as I write this, maybe the issue should not be the exact reward, but that it is coming from someone who knows us perfectly. I can just imagine that it will be even greater than we can ever imagine, whatever the reward happens to be.
Stay tuned until tomorrow for one last thought on this subject of rewards: Is it a proper motivation?