“Hold onto what you have so that no one will take away your crown,” (Rev 3:11) If you have been taught to live in sin-consciousness, I just stirred up guilt and fear of loss. How does that agree with a God whose perfect love casts out fear?
Instead of life and peace that Jesus came to infuse in us, you may have been taught to believe in a God who is just waiting for you to mess up…again, so that he can take from you, punish you, distance himself from you. That sounds to me like someone who steals your hope, kills your dreams, punishes with sickness and will destroy you if you don’t get it together. That is not the Good Father I have come to know, but is the exact description of the work of our enemy that Jesus described in John 10:10.
Many children of God are being fed a vomitous “gospel” of mixture. Because of this unholy blend they often come away fearful and condemned when they are seeking God in His word. How can this be? This is not the Good News that Jesus came to reveal.
Crowns have to do with reward. Reward for faith. We know that our God likes to bestow rewards upon his children. What good parent doesn’t?
“But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 AMP
Simple. He rewards those who believe He exists and show an interest in getting to know Him better. He is much easier to please than we are.
12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV
We do work for the Father and with the Father. Remember that Jesus only did what He saw the Father do and said what He heard the Father say. Sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves and do things that we think need to be done or how we think we should do it. We forget to talk to the Father about it.
However noble the things we do without the Father may seem, they will burn up like wood, hay and straw. They stem from our flesh, from our little orphan hearts still trying to earn our place. Those things come out of our place of insecurity and trying to earn what already belongs to us. What is left over after the fire that is the gold, silver and precious stones; those things will be our reward, our crowns. So when Jesus said, “Hold onto what you have so that no one will take away your crown,” I believe He meant, hold onto the truth of your identity in Christ, your identity as a son of the most high God and all He has made yours, the truth of what has been done for you, and whose you are now. If I know whose I am I will not act from insecurity and I will not lose my crowns.
Look at 1 Corinthians 3:15. “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss.” No crowns. “Though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” The person who worked hard but without the Father’s initiative and plan will still be saved, but have no gold, silver or precious stones for their crown to be formed. They will have worked without benefit.
I don’t know about you, but I want my crowns. Jesus paid the full price so that I could fulfill my destiny and attain the crowns. It will be our privilege, like the 24 elders of Revelation, to throw every crown we receive back at the feet of Jesus. For believers, there is no punishment. There are only rewards to be won or lost.
In this life we may have to live with the natural consequences of poor choices, but we do not move out of the Father’s love. The Day of Judgement for us (believers) will only determine how much reward we receive so that we may continue to honor the Father.
The things that will earn us crowns are often much simpler than we make up in our minds. What if a golden crown awaits you because you spontaneously hugged someone in line at the grocery store when Papa gave you a moment of HIs love for them? What if you just speaking words of life by calling out the gold He allowed you to see in one of His kids resulted in a precious stone placed in your crown? I think that is as complicated as “take care of my sheep.” Wait to be gently inspired by God to move, then do it! His way is so much fun! His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
His inspirations are generally not things that require planning, skill, a title or a credential. They only require time spent to develop friendship with Papa. They require conversations with Him, getting to know His heart and asking Him to help you see people the way He sees them (prayer). Lastly, they require the muscles built by practice of instant obedience. Not obedience because of fear, but obedience because you are in love.
Remember, practice means you have done it many times and not been perfect at it, but you’re getting better. Papa is ok with your imperfection. He cheers you on your journey toward more of Him. As you grow in your trust, He will inspire some more difficult assignments, bigger leaps of faith, but by then they won’t feel like they are bigger.
Well doesn’t God correct us? Yes, because our Father is a good father. Even His correction is pleasurable! He is a perfect Father, His intent is never to control nor to instill fear. Instead, He helps us to see it from His perspective. He corrects us as mature children who He is teaching to reign with Him.
It is critical that we come into agreement with God about our identity in Christ Jesus. It is crucial that we unshakably know whose we are and what is mine because of that fact. That we have been made sons and daughters, co-heirs with Jesus, that our words carry authority; life and death are in our tongues. That a kind word from us can prophesy the course of a life. We need to agree so that in the glow of this amazingly Good News we become those who bring life and peace.
Producing crowns is a by-product of resting in the finished work of Jesus. Quite literally it is the same thing as abiding in the vine and thereby producing fruit without effort. Out of the love you receive from Him while resting in His arms, you fall more deeply in love with Him. When he gently prompts a desire of His heart, it has become your desire too. You begin to see the way He sees and feel the way He feels towards yourself and others. (Sounds kind of like, “love your neighbor as yourself.”) He puts things in your heart to do, then gives you a crown for doing it. Simple. He is really looking for any excuse to bless and honor you, because He is in love!
Rest in Him. Enjoy talking to him, hearing from Him, learning His good thoughts and intentions toward you and then do whatever He tells you to do, and only what He tells you to do. This is a lifestyle of rest that produces crowns. Trust in the finished work of Jesus for you.
Paul, the apostle of grace, at the end of his race said in 2 Timothy 4:8, 8 Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing. That sounds pretty secure to me.
That chapter begins, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead,” if anyone knows the value of Jesus’ finished work for you and for me, it is Jesus himself. He is the one who will judge us on the Day of Judgment. Do we believe He will not find his own work sufficient?