One verse that has become the life verse of so many is Philippians one and verse twenty-one that reads, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul presents here two truths:
- To live is Christ. Paul lived every moment of his life for his Lord. Someone said, “Only one life ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” This is Paul’s feeling. He wants to do all he can while he can. Life was too short to be involved in the temporal. To live was Christ.
- To die is gain. The gain came from the life lived for Christ. Paul was among the New Testament writer that emphasized the crowns that may be won by the Christian.
The Crown of Rejoicing
The Incorruptible Crown
I Corinthians 9:25- And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
The Crown of Life
James 1:12- Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Revelation 2:10- Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life
The Crown of Righteousness
II Timothy 4:8- Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
The Crown of Glory
I Peter 5:2-4- Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Reward day is coming soon. Jesus said in Revelation 22:12, And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. If we are looking for our rewards now, we are living on a cheap substitute for all our loving Lord desires to give us. When speaking of those Pharisees in Matthew six and the applause they sought of men, Christ continually said, They have their reward, but I do not want my reward now. We should desire the one that comes from our Savior in Heaven!
Dr. Lee Roberson told the story of the missionary and his wife who had given their lives in Africa who were coming back to the United States. It just happened that on the same boat with the old missionaries was Theodore Roosevelt, former president of the United States, coming back from a big game hunt in Africa.
Everything on the ship was done for Roosevelt. Everybody was conscious of his presence, but no one seemed to pay any attention to the old missionary and his wife.
Days passed. They came to New York Harbor. The missionary said to his wife, “Look! Everything is for Roosevelt. When we get to port, just watch the bands, the crowds, the cheering. Wife, do you reckon anybody will be at the port to welcome us home?”
Sure enough, when the big shop came in, there was the Marine Band, the cheering thousands to greet the former president from a big game hunt in Africa.
Down the gangplank walked the broken missionary and by his side his poor wife, lugging their own baggage, and not a soul to meet them as they came home.
In a cheap motel in New York City, bitterness entered into the heart of the missionary. He said, “Wife, it isn’t fair! It’s not right! We go to Africa and give our lives. Roosevelt goes there for a big game hunt. He returns home and is greeted by thousands; and not a soul to welcome us- not a soul!”
His wife said, “Husband, I can’t answer it, but I am going to have you by yourself. I want you to get on your knees and pray that out of your heart.”
She left. The old missionary got down on his knees and cried out to God. The Lord came down, put His hand on the shoulder of the old, broken-down missionary and whispered, “But, Missionary, YOU ARE NOT HOME YET!”
How wonderfully blessed that is! Christian, we are not home yet! When Christ returns, He said, My reward is with me. Even so come, Lord Jesus, come!