The other day I was going about my daily life and I was suddenly reminded of a promise from God about how those who make it a goal to live uprightly will receive a crown in heaven. So I went to the Bible to do some digging and was reminded that there are five crowns Christians can get in heaven! There are no physical descriptions of the crowns but I thought it would be fun to include some photos of earthly crowns to wet our appetite! Also, I found it interesting to note that the Bible doesn't say any one crown is greater than another. So I simply listed the crowns here as they are found in scripture.
Back in the age when Paul was alive athletes would compete to win a highly decorated wreath. It would be placed on the head of the winner and that individual would be praised as the greatest of all those who competed. Today athletes compete for medals, gold cups, and cash rewards. But they receive these things because we recognize and respect all the hard work and discipline it takes to be a winning athlete.
I think its interesting that God wishes to do the same, albeit in a decidedly better manner, for all of His children who go the extra mile in whatever calling He sets.
"Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one." (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
This crown has also been called the "soul winner's crown." In the following verses the apostle Paul expresses those that he helped save as his "joy" and his "crown of rejoicing." God will be giving a crown to everyone who was instrumental in helping lead the lost to Jesus Christ.
"For what is our hope, or joy, or Crown of Rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy." (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
Paul made a point in these verses about how only the saved will be present when Jesus comes again. Can you imagine the thrill of seeing people you helped lead to Christ there in heaven?! But wait... it gets better. This crown is special because it IS the people you witnessed to. People are the crown! Thinking this way puts what Paul said in a different light, doesn't it?
I can't imagine the thrill of that moment! Standing before God with the souls he has perfected and knowing that he used you and I to get them there! This is one crown I definitely want!
The following verses talk about a specific kind of Christian... the type that guard their lives and uphold shining testimonies. The world always makes fun of these types of people because they don't follow the crowd, abuse their bodies, or find fun in immorality. These Christians are always true to themselves and to their convictions. That isn't easy. Who wants to be the one that's always left out or made fun of? But living this way pleases the Lord and they will be the ones you see in heaven wearing "crowns of righteousness."
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
I believe it is possible that God gives this special crown to everyone who has never seen Jesus with their own eyes but believe and hope for his return, regardless. " Jesus said to him, ' Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'" John 20:29
Here's another cool crown. This one is given to everybody who teaches others the ways and knowledge of God. This doesn't apply just to those recently saved but to any Christians who are thirsting for a deeper understanding of God's word. It is a serious responsibility but also a huge privilege to help someone gain a deeper understanding of God and their walk with Him!
"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint 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." (1 Peter 5:2-4)
This final crown has also been called the "martyr's crown." Jesus said that He will give this crown to those Christians who suffer severe hardship, testing, tribulation and/or physical death on His behalf.
"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." (Revelation 2:10)
This verse has raised much controversy over its true meaning. Revelations is a difficult book to understand in general and very mysterious. But if you are uncertain of this verse than be encouraged because the Bible speaks of this crown in James as well.
" Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the Crown of Life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:12
Reading about all these crowns really puts every-day living into a new light, doesn't it? Even the most mundane days of our lives could have eternal significance if we nurture the right attitudes! That is a huge encouragement for me because, quite frankly, there are some days when I wonder if anything I do has any lasting significance. We've all had those days, you know... when we would rather stay in bed. :)
But praise God! He sees everything we do and nothing goes unnoticed by him. So if you send a card to someone needing encouragement, if you hold the door for someone, if you pray for someone God put on your heart... he sees it! It doesn't matter if anyone else thinks what you do is important. God is so good to us... more than any of us deserve. Let's go through this week with the knowledge that He is with us and will not forget what we do for him.
" For God is not unfair. How can He forget your hard work for Him, or forget the way you used to show your love for Him-and still do-by helping his children? And we are anxious that you keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, so that you will get your full reward." Hebrews 6:10-11
" Do not let this happy trust in the Lord die away, no matter what happens. Remember your reward! You need to keep on patiently doing God's will if you want Him to do for you all that He has promised." Hebrews 10: 35 & 36