2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. NASB
This verse really puzzles me and here’s why: most Christians I have observed don’t act like they will love His appearing. I mean they never talk about His coming, and so it seems that they do not anticipate or look forward to His coming. I have come up with these four ways to see this passage, or four possible reasons why some Christians don’t act like they love Christ or are looking forward to seeing Him.
1. It is possible that the Christians I observe really do look forward to His appearing, but they are just not willing to admit it. They are secret Christians who do not always openly show their love for Christ.
2. Many Christians don’t look forward to His appearing now, but when they see Him He will change them and make them love Him. (Yes, they will be changed, but I’m not this is the correct meaning).
3. Many that say they are Christians really are not Christians. And this is the reason why they don’t seem to look forward to His coming—because they really are not look forward to it (sad, but I think this is a valid point).
4. I’m not at all sure that all Christians will receive the crown of righteousness. I wonder if some will not, that only those who have worked out a practical righteousness in their life, and thus have grown to love Him, will receive the crown. Most commentaries I have read say that all true believers will receive this crown based on their imputed righteousness in Christ. But I’m not sure about that. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 indicates that it is possible for a Christian to be saved but to lose all his rewards because his works had no eternal value. And so he will just make it into heaven but will not receive any rewards.
In saying all this, I have to admit that I’m not at all sure if the crown of righteousness is a reward for just some of us—for those who love His appearing—or if it is given to all believers because of their imputed righteousness in Christ. But if this is, in fact, the case then all true believers really will love His appearing. In my heart I know that all believers love Him because they are a child of God. But it just appears to me that so many Christians these days are uncomfortable talking about or even thinking about His coming. And of course this is because they have some sins they are holding on to and so they are not ready to see Him just yet.
So this is why I still tend to think that the crown of righteousness will be given only to those who are ready to see Him and are not holding on to any sin when He appears—those who love to think about and are eager for His coming.
I hope this is true for you. Are you eager for His coming? Do you long to be with Him?