There are five occurrences of the term “Crown of Glory” in the King James Version of the Scriptures, two are in reference to the children of Israel, one is related to wisdom, one is directed towards the elderly, and the last is 1st Peter 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a Crown of Glory that fadeth not away.”
It is with the last example here that we will be directing most of our efforts today, for again, that is exactly what you must do if you desire any of the five crowns that are spoken of in the Word of God, direct your efforts, apply yourself, for none of these five are just handed out because you are in heaven. Whether or not we like the terminology, these crowns must be earned, must be sought after with much diligence, you must give of yourself to the cause of Christ to wear one of these ornaments. There are specific tasks, if you will, that must be accomplished both in the temporal and the spiritual, and without much prayer, supplication, guidance of the Holy Spirit, devotion to the studying of Gods Word, and yes, much determination on your part, you will not accomplish this endeavor. One last item will I add here, you must continue in the path, you must fulfill the requirements, as it were, for the entirety of your life, for of one thing I can assure you through personal experience, you can and will lose the crowns you have achieved by continuing, even for a short period of time, in unrepented sins, though only God knows this amount of time, by His wonderful mercies and incredible forgiveness toward His children though, you may return to the path of working toward them after repentance.
We have spoken on the matter of the difference between salvation by grace and the five crowns, so, for just a very quick refresher, you can lose your rewards in this area, but no one can lose, return, give up or in any way shape or form deny or repent of their salvation. That is why it is so very important to me when I have been blessed to speak to people who are giving great consideration to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ to tell them to count the cost, (Luke 14:28-33) for once you become a child of the Most High God, an obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, a true Christian, you can never go back, but, who would want to. If you stray from the path, He will correct you, always in love, but He will chastise His disobedient children. (Heb. 12:6)
If you would then, please return with me now to 1st Peter 5: 1-4 and notice to whom he is speaking of here, elders. An elder in relation to our subject study here, is a person who is entitled to reverence and respect, someone who, most generally, but not always because of their age, has given great gravity to the Word of God, its truths and the application of it not only in his own life, but in the leadership of all those that are under his responsibility. Elders in the New Testament are also known as bishops, overseers, leaders, rulers, and yes even pastors.
They are influential because of their spiritual maturity and ability to rightly divide the word of truth, they have proven themselves to be wise and understanding, their first responsibility is to God, not to the whims and wills of the congregation. They are placed within this position not only because they are exceptional leaders filled with compassion, but they are also well versed in discipline, also done in love, but with no manipulation, no bending, of the truths of God’s Word and precepts. Their full-time task is to direct the affairs of the church, and though they may, and often do, hold outside jobs to provide for the needs of their family, the direction of the fellowship of the congregation must always be their main concern. The Word of God, its demands and ordinances of the heart, are the responsibility of the elders toward the congregation.
These are to feed the flock and be of a ready mind, (vs. 2) they are to take the oversight of this task willingly, (vs. 2) they are not to lord their office over any, but to be examples to all, (vs. 3) and as you can see from verse 4, the Crown of Glory is reserved for elders.
Not that we have a short description of what an elder is, and I assure you, that we have only barely touched on the subject, let us see who the elders are.
“An elders ministry should be done with the proper awareness that he serves the Chief Shepherd to whom he is answerable.” (J. Vernon McGee) This individual is not someone who serves in this position within the church building only but must take his responsibilities with him wherever he goes. There are many religious meeting places, dare I say church’s, where the individuals in the position of elder are voted in because they are upstanding members of the community, they exhibit qualities that are favored in the temporal, earthly realm, but are despised in the spiritual, they attend each and every Sunday morning and are almost always at the church for the other necessary events, but the words they use in the ‘general public’ are rarely those of a man of God. Not to infer that they are riotous and curse, but the love for others that do not attend the particular church that they do is not expressed as it is to those who do, and many times, it is sad to say, even that love is feigned.
It is no wonder that church’s that desire to serve the Lord Jesus to the fullest of their abilities have difficulty locating men to fill the position of an elder, for these men are becoming few and far between. It takes time of course, and one must be sure, hard questions must be asked, their lives must be examined in totality, and the one who desires to be an elder in this type of church, one that fears God and places His will above all others, must be willing to submit to a barrage of questions, for no stone must be left unturned. Trust in this area is paramount, for those in the congregation are, or should be, present to learn the truths of the Word of God and how He expects them to live reputable lives that will not dishonor His name.
Some pastors take, in my opinion only, too much time in this endeavor, not wanting to ask the hard questions right up front and rooting out those who only desire the position for prides sake. Others are too quick, and simply let the congregation vote on who they think would be a good elder for that year, playing to likes and dislikes, not wanting that any should feel left out. Many times these are they who have, as stated in the first part of Proverbs 16:31, “The hoary head is a crown of glory,” and leave out the last half of the verse, “if it be found in the way of righteousness.” There are many who have a shock of gray, or white, hair that are in the position of an elder that should not be there, voted in only for the reason that they have attended the church for many years and it is “their right” to hold the position. Church bylaws and precepts, time served are the factors considered and not the knowledge or following of the truth of God’s Word for their placement into the elder position. They look mature, but in reality many times are just contemptable, religious older folks that are far from being righteous. They have desired the position to assist them in their worldly affairs only, hoping to deceive many by their primped and pious appearance, feigning themselves to be wise, elderly statesmen. They are deceiving themselves only, and those that are easily deceived, for in their outward appearance they seem righteous, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. (Matt. 23:27)
If you are fulfilling the requirements and obligations of what the Scriptures tell us an elder should be, in all of the terminologies, then you are an elder. It is not necessary for you to be ‘ordained’ as one, you do not need to be ‘voted’ into the position, there are none that can vote that this crown should be inferred upon you, save one, you do not even need to be attending a church at the moment, though I would sincerely hope that you are, as long as its main purpose is the Glorify God and lift up the name of Jesus.
Seek out these five verse mentioned here, adhere to them, work diligently for this Crown of Glory, pray earnestly for the Lord to show you the path toward it and how to retain it for the day that you can lay it back at His feet, to its rightful owner.