The concept of heavenly rewards is strange to some Christians. You may say, “I am not going to worry about rewards. After all, what I am doing for God is out of love and not for personal gain.” Such reasoning may appear unselfish, but it is also unscriptural. The Word of God encourages us to strive for and protect spiritual rewards.
Our rewards are closely related to our good works. “For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:27 Our reward, however, is not salvation because we cannot earn salvation. “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 What then is our reward?
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Revelation 3:11
The Five Crowns
The Bible says that are five different crowns that believers can win as they pass through this life.
The Crown of Life
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
This crown is promised to those who love the Lord. It is won by enduring in trials and temptations. Our love for God gives us the strength to endure. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of Jesus’ endurance under the supreme test, and exhorts us not to lose heart in our personal struggles.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12: 2,3
The Incorruptible Crown
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last: but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly: I do not fight like a man beating the air. No I beat my body and make it slave so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9: 25,27
Personal discipleship and self-denial secure the incorruptible crown. Today people are taught: “Don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong, deny yourself nothing.” “If it gives you meaning, purpose or pleasure, do it!” Contrast such sayings with Jesus’ challenge: “Then He said to them all, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
Self-denial is at the heart of personal discipleship. If we discipline our lives and deny ourselves the pleasures of sin in this life, the incorruptible crown will be ours.
The Crown of Joy
The soul winner’s reward is a crown of joy. Jesus said: “I will make you fishers of men.” When Jesus teaches you to fish, men and women will be brought into the Kingdom because of the testimony of your life and lips. Paul said that the Thessalonians, whom he had led to Christ, would be His crown of joy at the last day in Christ’s presence. “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19 If you are faithful to proclaim Christ to others during this life, then this crown will belong to you at that last day.
The Crown of Glory
“Be shepherd’s of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be: not greedy for money, but eager to serve: not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:24
Caring for God’s flock will earn you the crown of glory. It is not reserved specially for pastors; every Christian can win it. It has to do with helping believers grow in Christ so they can serve in God’s kingdom, in other words, disciple making. Jesus said: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 (NASV) Jesus’ last command should be our first. We are charged with the responsibility of discipling the nations. Jesus commands us to be disciples and make disciples.
The Crown of Righteousness
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on the Day, and not to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8
Those who live expecting the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will receive this crown. Many Christians have hopes, dreams and desires that have nothing to do with God. Jesus said: “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, we will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” Luke 12:37 Jesus wants us to live watching and waiting for His return, dedicating our lives to building His kingdom. If we do, we will receive the crown of righteousness.
It is important to note that these crowns are not won for great heroic deeds of faith, but for obeying the simple commands of Scripture. The word of God encourages us to take this matter seriously, seeking those things that will count for eternity, rather than temporal things.