3. Crown of Righteousness – Seeking (II Timothy 4:5-8) – PART 4
II Timothy 4:5-8, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For 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, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
In the 1987 NCAA Regional Finals, LSU was leading Indiana by eight points with only a few minutes left in the game. As is often the case with a team in the lead, LSU began playing a different ball game. The television announcer pointed out that the LSU players were beginning to watch the clock rather than wholeheartedly play the game. As a result of this shift in focus, Indiana closed the gap, won the game by one point, and eventually went on to become NCAA champions. While Jesus called us to be aware of "the signs of the times," he clearly called us to expend our energies in faithful, active service. As we await Jesus' promised return, we are not so much to watch the clock as to be diligent servants during the time we have available.
Looking for His return. Love His appearing. Those who live in such a manner as to love for Christ to come will receive this crown. There is a great reward that awaits those who finish well. The early believers were not looking for something to happen, they were looking for Someone to come. Looking for the train to arrive is one thing, but looking for someone we love to come on that train is another matter. When General MacArthur was driven out of the Philippines by the Japanese invasion, he said, "I shall return," and return he did. Before our Lord left this earth He said, "I will return..." (Acts 15:16), and return He will. The Lord will give this crown to the faithful Christian who is looking forward to the return of Christ.
When I studied arithmetic, I remembered that the answers were in the back of the book. No matter how I floundered among my problems, the correct solution was on the last page. I have failed often in working out life's problems, and I dwell in the midst of a people who are hopelessly trying to untangle the riddle of this present age. But I am cheered by one unfailing uncertainty—there is a Book that solves the mystery and the answer is in the back of the Book, "Behold I come quickly." "Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:12, 20).”
The famous and very successful football coach Bear Bryant often told reporters, "I’d croak in a month if I quit coaching."
After 25 years as the head coach at his alma mater, Bryant announced he would be stepping down at the end of the season. On December 29, 1982, he coached his Alabama football team for the last time in Memphis, TN. at the Liberty Bowl against Illinois. On January 26, 1983, he died of a massive heart attack.
The words “loved his appearing” perfectly describe the persevering Christian. Their eyes are on the future; waiting for the day Christ will return, wanting to be found faithful. Does that describe you? Are you fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith? The day is coming, and if you are fighting, finishing, and focused—your crown will be waiting. Oliver Greene said, "No man knows the day or the hour when Jesus will come; we do not know the day or the hour when we will be called to meet the Lord in death. If this should be the day of the Lord's return, or if this should be the day death comes for me, could I testify as Paul did in the face of death? Have I really fought a good fight? Have I kept the faith? Have I been a good minister, true to the Word and to those to whom I preached? Will I have a crown to cast at the feet of Jesus when we crown Him Lord of all?"
What a wonderful day it will be when Jesus Christ rewards His children for their faithfulness! However, these crowns are not for our glory, but for His. “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne” (Revelation 4:10). As we faithfully run the race, we earn crowns to His honor and glory. Paul had put in his time. He had stayed faithful. He had hung in until the end. Here he was in prison awaiting execution. It is just about over and Paul could say without reservation that he had accomplished what God had called him to do.
Question to Consider:
Points to Ponder:
PRAYER: Father, help me to be faithful and focused as I run my course for Your glory. In Jesus name, Amen!
Thank you for reading this devotion. This is PART FOUR of this series. Please visit the website tomorrow for PART FIVE.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.