“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
the crown of glory
Pastors will receive an unfading crown of glory for faithfulness to their congregations. A crown of victory was awarded after the Greek athletic games-usually a crown of woven ivy or oak leaves.
There are also crowns for other Christians and other reasons:
for a witness, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Philippians 4:1
for faithfulness, 2 Timothy 4:8
for enduring trials, James 1:12
for discipline, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
that does not fade away
The words “not fade away” primarily signify something that does not lose its initial pristine character. Greeks used this word of the amaranth flower, which does not fade but retains its brightness and excellent texture. So too, the pastor’s crown for faithfulness to his congregation will never fade away. God will make sure that He remembers the work of the pastor into eternity. This phrase “does not fade away” appears in the first chapter of our inheritance of heaven,
“To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
God rewards pastors eternally for faithfulness to their congregation.
Is your ambition as a pastor to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ with a crown of glory on your head? Will you stand there, bareheaded? An unfaithful pastor might say, “In my eyes, I finished first, but I did not get a first-place prize, nor even second place.” It is not a matter of merely finishing the race, but it is an issue of how well we ran the race. If we foul another runner on the far turn, Jesus will see it and disqualify us from a victor’s wreath.
In heaven, we will cast our crowns before the Lord. When God gives the signal to throw our crowns down, will we have a crown to throw? We work for them here; we receive them hereafter.
“The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created’” (Revelation 4:10-11).
There are crowns to be gained and races to be won. This race is not fictional but factual. Every pastor will finish the race, but who desires to finish fourth? No one. We must run with fidelity to get a medal. We will get a medal if we put in a splendid performance. If we are going to turn in a stellar performance, we had better get in shape. If there is anything pastors seem to resist today, it is discipline. We do not want to train; it is too much work. The reason some people play right end on the bench is their lack of discipline.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Some pastors are happy to make the squad. Do you want to be on the field and involved in the game? To warm the bench is anything but gratifying. Why is it that so many of God’s leaders seem content to ride the bench? They would rather sit there wrapped in a blanket and watch someone else play the game and score the points. Every once in a while, they get a little excited and stand up and cheer. Then the blanket falls off feeling a draft; they are concerned only about recovering their blanket.
When we come to the end of life’s short day, there will be no further opportunities to live for Christ in time. You had your chance. You had your chance, but did you take advantage of it?