I Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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 someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Have you ever trained for something: daily workouts, pushing yourself as hard as possible, trying to be the best that you can be? I’m no athlete. I’m the queen of klutz for goodness sake, but I did set out to run a 5K. Trained hard, ran hard, and nearly died, but I brought home the trophy for first place in my category. It was a short lived victory. I decided I didn’t like running that much, and the trophy is gathering dust on a shelf at home. I checked off an item on my bucket list of things to accomplish, but that trophy really didnt bring lasting satisfaction.
I’m still in training mode however, but this time I’m going after an everlasting victory. I’m training for heaven. Wait, what?? We don’t need to train for heaven do we? Well, yes, as a matter of fact we do. When we arrive in heaven, the saved in Christ will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10). At this judgment, Christ will review our lives as we walked on earth, and He will be giving rewards in the form of crowns for certain actions: the crown of righteousness (for every person that loves the appearing of Christ), the incorruptible crown (for those who had self control), the crown of life (for those who patiently endured trials), the crown of glory (for those who feed the flock), and the crown of rejoicing (for the saints, the saved in Christ). Now, I don’t know about you, but I think receiving a crown from Jesus Christ himself would be the ultimate trophy, even better than my trophy buck I recently hung on my wall at home. But guess what the Bible says we are going to do with those beautiful crowns? We will lay them at the feet of Jesus and offer praise to Him. Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to show up at a praise meeting for Jesus Christ our King and be short on offerings. I don’t want to arrive in heaven with the smell of smoke on my robe just barely escaping the flames of hell. No, I want to be able to offer as many gifts to Christ as I possibly can. I don’t want to stand in the back with my head hung low because I don’t have more than one crown to offer. I want to shower my King with praise and gifts.
So you see, there is training to be done in the here and now. Don’t be mistaken. We won’t get to heaven on our own merit or good behavior or acts of kindness. We must choose and accept the gift of salvation. That’s the only way to get there. If we’re saved, entry to heaven is a given. The question is, how are you going to show up for the greatest party ever? Are you going to arrive, barely sneaking in with the smell of smoke on your new threads or are you going to be rejoicing, front and center, with so many crowns that you can barely contain the joy and excitement while waiting to lay your gifts at the feet of our Savior? It’s not a job. It’s a way of life. Live life to the fullest for Christ each day!