2 Tim. 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand and I will soon go free. I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. In the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing.
The Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow have much to teach us. They were incomplete, and they recognized their need for courage, intelligence and the capacity to love. In faith, they approached the wizard seeking these great gifts. The wizard responded by giving them the task of defeating the great enemy of Oz. So they went on their journey against evil to show that they truly sought those things which they were requesting. After a long journey and a tense encounter, the wicked witch was defeated. Our three heroes, along with Dorothy, approached the wizard to show that they had completed their work. And though the man behind the curtain was indeed no wizard, he no less conferred upon them the things which they were lacking. The three who earnestly sought to show their desire for the great things they were missing ultimately received them symbolically. And so it is with the crown of righteousness.
Paul begins by first telling why he expects to receive the crown of righteousness. He speaks of what he did to show that he earnestly desired righteousness. He fought the good fight, finished the race and remain faithful. He desired to welcome Jesus Christ back. His aim, his goal was to seek after God in all he did. Like our three heroes, he stood against evil and sought what was good. God himself is the root of and embodiment of righteousness. If we truly seek him, then we seek righteousness. The crowns placed on the heads of those who long to welcome Jesus Christ at his return are a symbol of the believer receiving that which was earnestly desired. If we seek God, we will find him and everything that is in him. It is no mystery that scripture tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Scripture also tells us that the kingdom of God is at hand. Here, Paul lets us know that our crowns of righteousness as true believers and chasers of Jesus Christ are at hand as well.
When we join God’s flock we become members of a royal priesthood. Our God is Lord, King and Prince. Those who receive Jesus Christ are granted the right to be called children of God. While earthly royalty is conferred a status by birthright, we receive ours by rebirth-right. I may not have been royalty when I emerged from the womb, but I am royalty now that I have emerged from the water. In fighting the good fight, keeping the faith and chasing after God, we show that we are longing for the righteousness of the Lord. If we genuinely seek that, we will find that. Not only do we have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us while here on Earth, but we will receive crowns of righteousness in heaven as well. Father, thank You that we can look forward to a future in which You confer on us the crowns of your righteousness.