When the Apostle Paul came to the end of his life, he wrote these words to Timothy: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day." (II Tim. 4:6-8).
Paul’s final personal testimony (vs.7) is filled with joy, and he has no regrets. As Paul neared the end of his life, he was able to look back with no regret or remorse. In these verses, he examines his life from 3 different perspectives: the present: the reality of the end of his life, for which he was ready (vs. 6); the past, when he had been faithful (vs. 7); and the future, as he anticipated his heavenly reward (vs. 8). His dying words were these: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race (the course), I have kept the faith.” He fought, he finished, he stayed faithful. Could there be a greater testimony to a man’s life than this?
The great goal of the Christian life is to gain God’s reward for faithful service. This "crown" is not diadem to be worn on the head, but a wreath, or garland, to be worn around the neck. It was granted to victorious military generals and to winning athletes in the Greek games. According to the New Testament, there are at least 5 specific rewards that can be given to faithful believers. They are:
•The crown of life, for enduring trials (James 1:12). •The crown of rejoicing for winning souls (I Thes. 2:19). •The crown of glory, for pastors (I Pet. 5:4). •The incorruptible crown for self discipline (I Cor. 9:24). •The crown of righteousness, for loving His appearing (II Tim. 4:8).
All throughout eternity, the only tangible reminder we will have of our earthly life--what we did with it, and how we served the Lord faithfully--will be these "crowns", these rewards given to us by Jesus. May we, like the Apostle Paul, be able to look back with no regrets.
Note: This Bible study is from my new book: Strength For Today (New Testament edition), and is from II Tim. 4.