Crown of life

James-1 12

Revised and re-posted below is a previous blog entry:

The Verse of the Day for March 23, 2016 is taken from James 1:12 in the New Living Translation:

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

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.

The reference to “the crown of life” is one of five different crowns mentioned in the New Testament, in that a “crown of life” awaits the individual who endures trials while carrying out the purposes of God’s plan.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 mentions an “incorruptible crown” awaiting those who discipline themselves and compete lawfully, those who “run their best race and win it”:

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize…

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

19 After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!

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

8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

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:

4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

In reflecting upon various aspects of crowns as they relate to athletic endeavors, I also think of what motivates believers beyond the desire to receive rewards at the bema or the judgment seat of Christ, in that we are striving to hear something that will make all the time, energy and effort put into living for Christ worthwhile. That deepest yearning is expressed 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, well done.”
We shall bask in ultimate ecstasy of victory
And savor the goodness of God for all eternity.

Here are two musical selections that mention the phrase “Well done” in light of serving God:

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

Here is a contemporary rendition “Well Done Good and Faithful Servant” by Lou Anne LaFortune

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