The Crown of Life Awaits
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
These are the words of Jesus, speaking to the church of Smyrna as recorded by John. John was one of the few disciples of Jesus who did not suffer a cruel death. Most of the disciples were killed for their faith, being crucified, beheaded, or stoned.
Paul tells us, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV). Paul was a pretty good authority on the subject. He once was stoned and left for dead only to get up and walk away. Eventually, Paul was beheaded in Rome under Nero.
These are not exactly the kind of things you promote when you are trying to win people over to join your team. So why did they do it? After being in the presence of Jesus, these men paid the ultimate sacrifice so that the gospel could be spread.
What do you have to fear today? Most likely, regardless of what you tell someone, you will still have your head at the end of the day. James, Jesus’ half brother, tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12 NASV).
If fear is not an option, what are we to do? We need to stay focused on the goal; keep our eyes on the prize – the crown of life. In one of Jesus’ most famous speeches, The Beatitudes, He tells us, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 NIV).
As we know, freedom is not free. Many men and women in our military have paid a great price for the freedom we enjoy in this country. The same goes for our faith; many martyrs paid with their lives so that you and I could hear the true story about Jesus. A big thank you to each of them.
Prayer: Lord, I pray I will be faithful unto death. Use me however You can. Regardless of what persecution may come my way, may I show myself approved. Help me to stay focused on the prize – the crown of life. In Jesus name, Amen.