In our Christian life we are those who love the Lord and enjoy Him, focusing on the wonderful divine life in us. This is what we desire – to grow in life and mature in life. On the other hand though, as we see it in the Bible, we also want to gain the reward – the prize! Paul was fighting but not in vain, but so as if he would receive the prize! This reward, this prize, is in addition to the Lord’s salvation, and is give to the triumphant runner of the race. In the old times there was a crown that was given to the winner of the game, and that crown was fading away after a while; what we receive now is an unfading crown of glory! For this reward, just like in school, we need to “work” out our own salvation, even strive and run in such a way so that we may receive the reward. Outside of the running race, many people walk about and do things their own way; for a runner though it’s not an option: he has to train himself, restrict himself, and follow certain rules and procedures that will eventually get him not just into the top race, but even get him the crown at the end of the race. Today it is the same with us in our Christian life, in our Christian race: we don’t just walk about and do things our own way, but we choose to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord in His way, so that at His coming He may reward us with the crown! We have our eyes set on the reward, on the prize, and just like Moses, we don’t look at the cost: we want to gain the prize!
There are some specific verses I enjoyed today regarding the reward and the prize:
- 2 Timothy 4:8 says, Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, with which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will recompense me in that day, and not only me but also all those who have loved His appearing. It’s not just a matter of life and enjoyment, but of righteousness through works. The reward is not given according to the Lord’s grace, but according to His righteousness. Also, the One who rewards us is not the Merciful God or the Redeeming Lord, but the Righteous Judge. We need to learn to live such a life in the Lord’s presence, that will be rewarded by Him in His righteousness.
- 1 Peter 5:4 says, And when the Chief Shepherd is manifested, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. This is the crown given to the Lord to His faithful elders / overseers, as a reward for their loyal service. This crown is the crown of glory that will never fade away – it will be a portion of the glory for the overcomers’ enjoyment in the manifestation of the kingdom of God and Christ!
- 2 Peter 1:11 says, In this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly and bountifully supplied to you. This reward is given to the faithful believers who pursue the growth in the Lord’s divine life unto maturity and the development of the virtues of His nature that in the millenium they may participate in His kingship in God’s glory. If today we pursue the growth in life and the development of the virtues of the divine nature, we will be richly supplied the entrance into the Lord’s kingdom in eternity!
- James 1:12 says, Blessed is the man who endures trial, because when he has become approved by testing, he will receive the crown of life, which He promised to those who love Him. The crown of life is the best portion, the glory, the expression of life – life in its fullness. The believers are enduring trials by the divine life – and this will become their glory, their expression, even the crown of life, which is given to them as a reward at the Lord’s appearing for their enjoyment in the coming kingdom! If today in our sufferings we live and express the divine life, this life will be given to us in full as a reward at the Lord’s return!
And there are many other verses that speak of the reward given by the Lord to His faithful slaves, His stewards, even those who run the race with endurance. In principle, whatever we enjoy and experience today of the Lord and His divine life is just a foretaste of what will be our reward in the coming kingdom. Lord, we want to pursue You in such a way – that we may receive the reward! We are not aimless in our Christian race, but we want to win the race and gain the prize! Make us those who are just like Paul, running the race in order to receive the crown! [enjoyment from the life-study of Revelation, 1 Peter, and James, as quoted in the morning revival on the Crystallization-study of Isaiah(1)]