We set our sights now on the fourth crown in our study, the incorruptible crown, and as it is with all of these crowns that are offered to us, we must strive to earn them, they are not handed out at the gates of heaven, as it were, to all who enter, they are for those only who have set their hearts to the tasks that are necessary to obtain them. This crown is for those who have endeavored not to occasionally seek the fulfillment of Galatians 6:9, to “not be weary in well doing,” but to live a life that is worthy of the calling of Christ.
I would like to quote from Alexander MacLaren, a Baptist preacher and expositor who lived in the 1800s on the subject of this crown; “We are not Christians unless the dominant motive of our lives be the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and unless we feel a necessity, because of loving Him, to aim to be like Him. A man is not crowned unless he strives according to the laws of the arena, (for the Christian) the laws are two, no man can enter the conflict but by faith in Christ, no man can win in the struggle but by faithful effort. So, the first law is, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the second is, hold fast that thou hast, let no man take thy crown.”
Look if you will at the energy of some of these words, “dominant motive,” “unless we feel a necessity,” “unless we strive,” and “by faithful effort.” Everything in these words speaks of a person who is sure of what they are after, who strenuously practices each and everyday to obtain an item of great worth to them, whose main focus in life is upon one thing and one thing only, and since we are speaking here of the spiritual and not the temporal or transitory, our goal is Christ.
One must take great care in the study and desires to obtain the five crowns we are discussing in this series, for the crowns are not the goal, the goal is Christ, and a deeper understanding of who He is. The crowns themselves are in a sense secondary, in fact when it comes to our obedient and submissive service to our Lord, these crowns actually fall back even further, but our intentions for them are to be honorable, if you will, for as we have mentioned previously, do you truly desire to come into the presence of the Lamb with no gift in your hands. There are many crowns spoken of in Scripture besides these five, and I would highly suggest a study on your own to search them out, but these five are the ones that are highly sought after by those who desire to go beyond what we have been commanded to do, so that we may be profitable, and not unprofitable servants. (Luke 17:10)
And therein lies the opportunity for the incorruptible crown, it is earned by those who do not quit, who do not give up, who fail, fall and get up, over and over again, with one thought in mind, and that thought is not the crown, it is Christ. The race, as it were, does not end until we enter into glory, it is continuous and can be declared in a sense as a series of ‘mini races.’ Many Christians have decided to take a break from the race, and I believe our Lord expects that, in fact many of the times that we feel as if we are not useful to Him, as if perhaps he has set us on the bench, put us out of the game, as it were, well, my friends, He has. We are human, and humans need rest, even in the spiritual realm. Think on Moses if you will, all the turmoil of the plagues, the people continually complaining, moving on how often in their forty year journey, when do you think that the first five books of the Bible were written, when Moses was resting, of course. We can use the same train of thought in the life of Paul, all of those epistles were not written on the road, but in filthy prisons in pain and at times in shackles.
Were these men, and many others, intentionally taking a break from God, telling Him that the work was too hard, too difficult to continue, no, they were led to rest by our Lord because if He did not lead them to it they would not seek it, they would go on in His work for His glory without food, without rest, without everything, for His Glory if that was necessary, that is a person who will receive the incorruptible crown.
“Do not be weary in well doing.”
Though there are those who began the race willingly and with great fervor, but through the actions of our adversary or of their own design, they will not complete the work required for this crown. The work is hard, extreme diligence is required at all times, and repentance is a definitive word here when speaking of this diligence. We all either fall off of the path that is set before us, or choose to leave it for a short period of time of our own accord, but if our hearts desire is towards continuous servitude to our Lord, and we repent of these times, there is no danger in loosing this crown. But for those who see it as too draining, too much continuing effort, to those who do not understand that the hard work that is required to obtain this crown could include the loss of family and friends, in placing even those you deeply love behind your love for the Lord and the service that He has called you to, this crown will not be theirs, but His unending love for you will remain.
All devotion of the mind, of time, of strength, both in the physical and spiritual must be continuously on Christ, he will suffer no second place, and it is our rightful duty, so then the incorruptible crown is the reward for this duty fulfilled. The world will try to draw you away from this endeavor, as it does with all of Gods children in their desire to serve Him, people will ridicule you, for to place the invisible before the visible is foolishness to them, as the preaching of the cross is. (1st Cor. 1:18) Friends and family will desert you, for the most part, or at the least will tolerate you, for they will not always understand that when God calls a man to serve with great desire of the heart, and when that man heeds that call, he is torn inside, for he loves them dearly, but the will belongs to God, and to Him he freely submits, no matter the consequences.
Are you beginning to see the devotion that is necessary to receive this crown? We are speaking here of a believer who has truly said in his heart and soul to our Lord, “Use me,” and means it, who though he must still live in the flesh, each day he feeds it less and less with the things of the world, and more and more with the Scriptures, and although he must still live in the transitory, it holds no grasp on him any longer, he seeks nothing from it, and each day its call becomes less and less audible.
Do not leave the path, if you can’t run towards our Lord, walk, crawl, whatever it takes, if there is one thing above nearly all others that our adversary detests it is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ that is humble in the service to His Lord, that cannot be swayed, who has said and truly believes what he says when he repeats the words of Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Strong words do not need strong men to say them, they need faithful men to live them.
This incorruptible crown is for those who will not quit, who will not let their heart and mind rest from the call of Christ, who wake in the morning with the Lord on their minds, who spend the day with His truths on their lips, who lay their heads down at night with prayers of repentance and the seeking of His will for themselves and all that they love. These are constantly seeking the deeper things of the Lord, those whose desire it is to work in the deep waters, not close to the shore where it is safe.
This crown is a reward for those who know that they can only endure the grueling practice of the faith of their souls because of Christ, their dominant motive is Christ, His strength and guidance is a necessity, to strive by faithful effort is their request unto God, and the crown that He will reward them with will be cast back at His feet, where all of the crowns belong. These will rest when they get home, not before.