Whether these are actual crowns or symbolic ones, it is an unbelievable privilege to be honored by the king. Our rewards from God should not be our primary focus. We live for God because God first loved us. We serve the Kingdom because of the grace, love, and mercy of Christ. We have a relationship with God that is far more important than any rewards. However, God loves us and rewards us for obedient service.
God will give rewards in heaven at the bema, or the judgment seat of Christ, based on our faithfulness in service to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10). The rewards will show the reality of our sonship (Galatians 4:7) and the justice of God (Hebrews 6:10). God will give rewards in heaven in order to fulfill the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7–9) and make good on His promise that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
In His Parable of the Talents, Jesus taught that we must use our gifts wisely. A talent was a very large sum of money, about 80 pounds (36 kg) of silver. Before leaving on a journey, a wealthy man entrusted his fortune to his servants for the time he would be away. Two of the servants used the money wisely to earn income for their master. However, the third servant did not put the money to good use, and the master was very displeased.
The master represents God in this parable, and the servants represent us. The English word talent, meaning our natural abilities, is derived from this parable. That is fitting because the lesson of the parable is that we must use our talents and abilities, as well as our wealth, in God's service. If we do not use our gifts wisely, God will consider us to be wicked and lazy like the third man in the parable. The good news is that God will reward those who faithfully serve Him.
These may be the crowns that John saw the elders lay at the feet of Jesus. In their words of worship, they indicate that, despite what they may have done on earth to earn these crowns, only Jesus is truly worthy of glory and honor. In the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself, all good deeds we have done will pale in comparison. A crown will seem but an insignificant gift to present to the One who gave His life for us (Galatians 2:20).
The elders’ response is most likely the way we will all respond when we receive our reward from Jesus. We will be so overcome with gratitude because of what He has done for us that worship will be spontaneous. Regardless of what we endured on earth, a priceless crown will seem a paltry offering, but it will be the best gift we can give Him. Although the Scriptures do not state it specifically, it is likely that we will all follow the example of the twenty-four elders in casting our crowns at Jesus’ feet.
The whole church also paid an homage of reverence and adoration to the same God; acknowledging all the good done to them, or wrought in them, to proceed from God, and the glory of it to be due unto God alone. The essence of the Christian life is in obeying and worshiping God and helping others. God has given each of us important gifts for those purposes. Like the three men in Jesus' Parable of the Talents, our gifts may be great or small. But no matter how great or small our talents, abilities and wealth, we are required to put them to good use.
In our upcoming leadership training, we will discuss spiritual gifts and how we can use them for the glory of God. Here are just a few of many ways to use the gifts God has given us:
· Become a minister, deacon, elder, or Sunday School teacher.
· Volunteer at a social service agency, school or hospital. They always need help.
· Volunteer at church.
· Pray for the sick and suffering.
· Babysit for a friend or neighbor.
· Invite someone lonely to share a meal.
· Help someone who is sick or elderly. Visit, run errands, give a ride to appointments or help with chores.
· Give hugs and attention to your spouse, siblings, children and parents.
· Don't hold a grudge; forgive everyone who has treated you badly.
· Smile and be patient and kind to the people you encounter every day.
· Find a creative use for your own special talent!