Beyond the crowns: To hear well done

James-1 12

Revised and re-posted, the following blog entry examines James 1:12 (NIV):

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

The Verse of the Day for March 23, 2015 makes reference to “the crown of life,” one of five different crowns mentioned in the New Testament.

Translated from the Greek word stephanos, the word crown relates to the symbol of victory given to athletes in the Greek games, such as the Olympics or other contests, where winners are honored or crowned with laurel leaves or olive branches.

1 Corinthians 9:25 mentions an “incorruptible crown” awaiting those who discipline themselves and compete lawfully, who “run their best race and win it”:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

A “crown of joy” is spoken of in terms of leading others to Christ in 1 Thessalonians 2:19:

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?

2 Timothy 4:8 speaks of a “crown of righteousness” for living righteously in this world.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

A “crown of life” awaits the individual who endures trials while carrying out the purposes of God’s plan, as James 1:12 states:

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.

1 Peter 5:4 speaks of a “crown of glory” awaiting those who fulfill their calling and finish the work that has been set before them:

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

In reflecting upon the various aspects of crowns as they relate to athletic endeavors, I think of what motivates me beyond the desire to receive rewards at the bema or the judgment seat of Christ, in that I am striving to hear something that will make all the time, energy and effort put into living my life for Christ worthwhile. I go on to express that deepest yearning in the poem

Much More

His lord said to him, “Well done,

good and faithful servant;

you have been faithful over a few things,

I will make you ruler over many things:

enter into the joy of your lord.”

Matthew 25:23

 

More than mere status or the embrace of the crown

Around the head or glory, honor or renown;

More than medals of gold or laurels that fade

With the thundering applause and ceaseless accolade;

More than any crowning achievement or success

Or the rarest prizes eyes could ever witness;

More than the taste of victory every time you try:

Such alluring sweetness can never satisfy.

So much more are these words when the race is finally won,

When we finish the course and cross the finish line,

And stand upon the bema where we shall incline

Our ears to hear God say, “Good and faithful servant, welld

And savor the goodness of God for all eternity.

Here is a musical selection referring to the parable of the talents where we hear words that mean more than any crown:

“He’ll understand and say well done” by the  renowned Davis Sisters, one of the premier gospel singing groups of the 20th Century.

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