Our Reward and Crown

After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)


A couple of weeks ago, I came across that verse and it just floored me. 


In my mind, it’s tied to this verse:


“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6: 19&20 (ESV)


I’ve thought about that verse before and concluded that the treasure Jesus was talking about here was our relationships. Obviously, there are no physical, earthly treasures we can take to heaven with us. Every physical item of value on this earth will eventually return to dust. But surely the people we recognize here on earth will be people we recognize and know when we are in heaven. So, it makes sense that the relationships we had on this earth will be relationships we continue to have in heaven.


Now, in the verse from Thessalonians, Paul is addressing people who came to be believers because he and Silas and Timothy had brought them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they believed. As such, the Thessalonians became brothers and sisters in Christ –part of the family of God. And Paul, writing under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says those believers will be his and Silas’ and Timothy’s joy and crown in heaven. 


The Thessalonians believers are treasures stored up in heaven for Paul and Silas and Timothy!


The souls of those people cannot be snatched from the hand of Jesus! (John 10:28) Their salvation is immune to and safe from moth and rust and decay –and from the thief who comes to steal! 


What’s more is that, since we will be granted eternal life, those relationships will be eternal as well. 


So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)


I was pondering all this last week when I was on vacation in northern Minnesota, surrounded by the incredible beauty of the lakes and forests that I love so much. I had been away from television sets and the news media for several days which resulted in a glorious and holy sense of peace and calm that results in an uncommon clarity of mind.


And it occurred to me that once again, it all comes down to love.


With the morning sun filtering through the trees and a bright blue sky above, I was struck by the enormous number of people I love and who love me. Of course I have friends and family, but the number of people I have met as a result of just going where God has sent me has added scores and scores of people to my life whom I did not know five years ago and I now count as people I genuinely love. There are people who brought me closer to the love of Jesus and people who I have shared  His love with.  There are so many I struggle to remember all of them in my daily prayers –but I try.


And I thought of all the people in the world and and all the people who love others and how the enormity of His love is really beyond my ability to comprehend.


And, just as I was having that thought, one of my favorite songs was playing:


Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied
(from “Multiplied” by needtobreathe)
I have loved that song for a long time, but in this moment, I felt like I could not contain His love. It is like a blazing wildfire singing His name. His love does multiply and stretch across the skies in endless “Hallelujahs!” of praise and worship! The opportunity for loving other people in this lifetime is virtually limitless.
And, as I continued to listen to songs, I realized that every song on Kinship Christian Radio comes down to His love.
And so does every teaching and message.
All of everything here on this earth in our lifetimes comes down to love . It all comes down to love. 
And then I remembered what Jesus said when asked about the greatest commandment: 
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12: 30&31 (NIV) 
And in that moment, the commandment became not an onerous dictate but a beautiful and glorious and wonderful gift. We are commanded to love! It’s our mission and our purpose and our honor and our joy and our privilege! It is our very reason for being!
Love will be the reward and the crown we wear in heaven!  
It’s an infinite love. It’s beyond description. As Paul himself says, it is an enormity beyond the ability of the human mind to fully understand. And that is:
Today’s Praise
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.


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