Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
“Also to all who have loved His appearing.” For many years, I thought that this expression referred to those believers who had kindly, sentimental feelings about the coming of the Lord. They would be rewarded with a crown of righteousness because their hearts glowed warm when they thought about the Rapture.
But surely it means more than this. To love His appearing means to live in the light of His coming, to behave as if He were coming today. Thus, to love His appearing means to live in moral purity. For, as John reminds us, “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John:3:3).
It means to stay disentangled from the things of this life. We should set our affections on things above, not on things of the earth (Colossians:3:2). It means to serve God’s people, giving them “food in due season” (Matthew:24:45). The Lord pronounces a special blessing on those who are doing that when He comes.
In short, it means that we won’t do anything that we would not want to be found doing when He appears. We would not go anywhere that would cause shame at His coming. We would not say anything that be would be offensive in His presence.
If you knew Christ were coming in a week, how would you spend the intervening days? Does it mean you would give up your job, go to a mountaintop and spend all day reading the Bible and praying? Does it mean you would go into “full-time Christian work,” preaching and teaching day and night?
If we are really walking with the Lord today and living in the center of His will, it would mean carrying on as usual. If, however, we are living for self, then it would require some revolutionary changes.
It is not enough to have kind thoughts about the Savior’s return. The crown of righteousness is reserved for those who love it enough to let the truth mold their lives. It is not enough to hold the truth about His coming; the truth must hold us.