Someday when and if we get to Heaven, some of us will receive a crown…maybe more than one. Our crown will be a reward for our dedication and service to God.
The Bible tells us that there will be at least five different crowns that God will give to some of us who have accepted God's gift of salvation. Each crown will have a different honor and recognition that comes with it.
In Matthew 6: 9-21, Jesus is challenging us to lay up treasures in heaven.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6: 9-21
You may ask what are these treasures and how do we get them?
Treasures on earth are often of a material or selfish nature…houses, cars, boats, investments, bank accounts, clothes, dream vacations, prestige, power and on and on. Don't expect worldly treasures in Heaven. There will be no need or desire for worldly treasures.
Heavenly treasures probably are not material things. If God desires us to have material things in Heaven, He surely will provide them to all His people. The Bible speaks of Heavenly things as spiritual treasures. Today we are going to see where some of them come from, and how we can obtain them while on earth.
God, in His abundant mercy towards us, has not only offered us the free gift of salvation but has given us an opportunity to store up heavenly treasures while here on earth. These treasures or "crowns" are earned by the Christian who gives of himself and spends time working for the Lord. Let me stop just a moment to make sure we understand what the Lord means about "works". We must remember that doing good works does not get us into heaven. Salvation only comes through giving of ourselves to Jesus when we recognized that our sinful life is against God, and believing that through Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, we too can be resurrected from our sinful life and become forgiven by God for our sins.
Our good works come after we have experienced our "new birth" into God's family. This new birth is what we call salvation. Salvation is a free gift and has nothing to do with good works. After we have truly experienced the gift of salvation from God then we begin to have the desire to work for God's Kingdom. This desire doesn't come as any payment for our salvation. "Salvation is free" but this desire comes as our obedience to God's call to spread the good news to others. It is God's will that all believers work to grow His Kingdom.
God will judge our works and determine whether they are good or bad. Our works will be judged with fire (l Corinthians 3: 12-13)
"If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work."
I Corinthians 3: 12-13
What does that mean? It means:
The works we do to glorify God are considered good works-those that we do in order to bring attention to ourselves are considered bad works.
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you." Matthew 6: 2-4
"Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." I Corinthians 4:5
Our works that are not considered good or acceptable by the test of fire are of no value to us in heaven. Remember whether our "works" are considered by God to be good or bad has nothing to do with our salvation, once we become children of God. No one will take us out of His hand.
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." John 10: 28
If all our works were not acceptable we would still be able to enter God's Kingdom but only squeaking by just in the nick of time for salvation is through faith not works.
"If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." I Corinthians 3: 14-15
Now with this understanding how "works" play in God's plan for His people, lets go back to what "crowns" are all about in heaven.
In Ephesians 2: 10, God tells us we were created for good works.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
Paul tells us to always work to receive crowns. (1 Corinthians 15: 58)
"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:58
What are the five crowns we can receive in heaven for service? Here they are:
First, the incorruptible crown… Sometimes this crown is called the victor's crown.
It is given to God's people for being truly self denying-always putting others before yourself. This person not only serves but he also avoids sin in order to better serve God. He even sometimes avoids good things that others enjoy in order to better serve his Lord. In other words serving God is his first priority.
Paul explains this crown in the example of runners in a race. (l Corinthians 9: 24-27)
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
1 Corinthians 9: 24-27
Some Christians deny themselves finishing the race to better serve the Lord such as Christian school teachers who could earn more money teaching in public schools but choose to teach where they can also teach the word of God, volunteers at homeless shelters, the nursery worker who watches the babies while the parents are in worship service, missionaries, etc. The crown of self sacrifice is a crown only a few of us will receive. This crown is given to them who truly follow Jesus instruction "to deny self" and serve others.
The Crown of Life is next. It is found in James 1: 12 and Revelation 2:10. It is sometimes called the martyr's crown. This crown goes to those who faithfully serve God up to the death by persecution for their works-this is the crown for those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. As the end times get closer more of God's people will face this test.
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1: 12
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10
Thirdly, there is a Crown of Rejoicing. God's word (1 Thessalonians 2: 17-19) indicates a special crown for those who have made it a passion in leading people to faith in Christ. Almost every church has a few who will receive this crown in heaven. Look around you. You can see the ones who faithfully witness to others about Jesus. They are the few that show up on visitation night. The ones whose heart is involved in jail ministry or those who visit the sick or dying. They are always concerned over young people. They are the ones who are always looking for someone to share the love of Jesus with. Most Christians will not receive this crown for they probably will go through life never telling a single soul about Jesus, yet this was the commandment left for us by Jesus in Mark 16: 15, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
Fourth the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5: 1,4) tells us about this "elders crown" or as Peter called it, the crown of glory. God seems to have a special crown for those spiritual followers who share the word of God. These could be ministers, preachers, evangelists, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders or any one who faithfully teaches the word of God to others. These people rarely get any recognition here in this life but their crown is waiting for them in the life hereafter.
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: …" 1 Peter 5: 1 (A witness is someone who tells all he knows.)
"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." 1 Peter 5: 4
Fifth, the last crown is the Crown of Righteousness. The reason that God doesn't use all Christians is because they don't make it a practice to live a righteous life. A righteous life is a life approved of by God and therefore that person is considered righteous. It is not easy to live a righteous life in our unrighteous world. It is a fight we must win to receive a crown of righteousness. In II Timothy 4: 7-8 there is a description of this righteous living.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing." 1 Timothy 4: 7-8
The question for us today is, how do you stock up for crowns in heaven? Can you see yourself receiving a crown-maybe two-or do you see yourself not wearing any? My friends, it is never too late to serve our Lord. He has given each of us gifts for His service. By using our God given gifts we can start building up treasures in heaven where no moths or rust will destroy or thieves break in and steal.
It will be a glorious day when Jesus places crowns on our heads and says, "well done good and faithful servant."