For an Incorruptible Crown

“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.” —I Corinthians 9:25

“BE THOU FAITHFUL unto death,” said the glorified Jesus, “and I will give thee a crown of life,” that is, an incorruptible crown. (Rev. 2:10) Paul was one who was faithful until death, and shortly before he was executed by the Roman authorities he wrote to Timothy and said “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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.”—II Tim. 4:7,8


The matter of being faithful to our vows of consecration is a serious one. The Lord is looking for those who are wholeheartedly for him, those who are not “lukewarm,” but “hot,” (Rev. 3:16) in their zeal to know and to do his will. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” Jesus said, and it is in obeying this injunction that we prove ourselves worthy of the crown of life. (Matt. 6:33) Our relationship to the Lord and our service to him must be the dominant theme of our lives, so much so that no step will be taken, no plans made, without considering his will in the matter. A Christian cannot plan his life simply to suit himself, or merely to promote his own interests, and be pleasing to the Lord.

It is a comparatively easy matter to serve the Lord when all the circumstances are favorable, and for this we can be thankful. But we should be just as willing to serve him when conditions are unfavorable to our flesh. The point is, we are not to plan our lives—where we will live, and how—simply with the thought of making ourselves comfortable, and then ask the Lord what we can do for him under such circumstances. If we are seeking first the kingdom of God, we will say to the Lord:

“I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
    I’ll say what you want me to say.
I’ll do what you want me to do, dear Lord,
    I’ll be what you want me to be.”


If, in the Lord’s providence, and in the doing of his will, our surroundings are congenial, we will thank him for this unmerited favor. If he leads us to places and into situations which are difficult for the flesh to bear, we will also thank him, and will look to him for strength to bear whatever his wisdom and love may deem to be best for us. (II Cor. 12:9) Many times there are opportunities to serve the Lord which entail much hardship, and when such opportunities are presented we should not hesitate to accept them, regardless of what the cost may be to our flesh.

This was the attitude of the Apostle Paul. In the chapter from which our text is taken, he reveals how he had put aside every other consideration in life except that of seeking first the kingdom of God. Paul went beyond what many would have considered necessary in order to make sure that he was keeping his body under, and bringing it into subjection. For instance, he argued that he had a right under the Law to expect support in material things from brethren he was serving. But Paul decided that he would not take advantage of this provision. (I Cor. 9:1-19) Instead, he would work and provide for his own food and clothing, and then serve the brethren in spiritual things besides. Thus he would be doing double service.

It was this desire to be used up completely in serving the Lord and the brethren that he refers to in the last verse of the chapter, saying, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (vs. 27) Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott word-for-word translation reads, “I browbeat my body,” indicating that in his viewpoint of life, the comfort of the flesh did not enter into his planning, but only how much he could sacrifice in carrying out the terms of his consecration.


“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?” writes Paul, and then draws the lesson, “So run, that ye may obtain.” (vs. 24) We are to run for the prize of the high calling (Phil. 3:14) with the same degree of application and diligence as though we were competing with other brethren. It is not actually a competitive race; but if we are to be victorious it is essential to ‘run’ just as energetically as though it were.

Our text says, ‘Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things’. His victory in the race is possible only because he devotes his whole life to this one end, and has properly prepared himself for the race by being “temperate in all things.” (I Cor. 9:25) Such is literally true of all athletes. They must be temperate in their eating, get a proper amount of rest, take the necessary exercise and training. Every phase of their lives is brought into control along lines which will assist their chances of final victory when the contests occur.

‘Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown’, says our text. All the honor and glory which men can bestow upon their heroes is ‘corruptible’, that is, transitory and short-lived. And yet those who strive for such crowns deem it well worthwhile to make all the necessary sacrifices involved in order to win that crown—the plaudits of men. But how much more valuable is the ‘crown’ for which we are striving, and how foolish it would be not to devote our entire life to obtain it!


Are we doing this? Is our first thought of each new day that which is expressed by the psalmist as a morning resolve? “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord [for grace to help]. I will pay my vows unto the Lord.” (Ps. 116:12-14) Resolving thus each morning, do we keep our minds and hearts fixed on this one idea throughout the day? It is true with many of those striving to please the Lord that most of their waking hours are consumed in making necessary provisions along material lines for themselves and their families, but even this should be done as unto the Lord.

In addition, it is important to keep in mind the need of “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16) as much as possible for spiritual matters. We need to keep up with the study of the Word. In many places there are meetings to attend. In every place there is witnessing work to be done. In the matter of earning a living, while the Christian is not under the tithing system as was natural Israel, it is well to realize that we are merely stewards over what we earn, and as faithful stewards should devote whatever is possible of it directly to the service of the Lord, the truth, and the brethren. We do all of this, and whatever else is possible, knowing that any and every sacrifice we make is as nothing in comparison with the glory which shall be revealed in us if we are faithful.—II Cor. 4:17,18


We should be willing to lay down our lives in the Lord’s service regardless of the reward at the end of the way, even though such a reward is held out to us in the Bible as an incentive. Of Jesus we are told that “for the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb. 12:2) That joy included an unselfish rejoicing in the prospect of blessing all the families of the earth, but that which inspired him faithfully to endure the trials involved in laying down his life as the Redeemer of the world, was the joy of serving the Father and doing his will.

How wonderful it is that this same joy is set before us! If faithful unto death, we will have the privilege of being associated with the Master in that glorious future work. And there is no reason why we should not be faithful, for the Lord has made every possible provision to this end. He has given us his Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, enlighten, and strengthen us. He covers our imperfections with the robe of Christ’s righteousness so that our imperfect works are acceptable to him. He has provided the armor of truth for our protection, and we can say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”—Ps. 91:2


Let us continue to run with diligence the race that is set before us and to continue to fight the good fight of faith. Let us lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, and having been given the exceeding great and precious promises whereby we might become partakers of the Divine nature, let us add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance (or self-control), and to self-control patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherlykindness, and to brotherlykindness love.—II Pet. 1:5-7

Peter explains that if these things be in us, and abound, we will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that we will never fall, but will be given an “abundant entrance” into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (II Pet. 1:8-11) The incorruptible crown for which we are striving is beautifully described also by Peter. He says that we have been begotten to a living hope, “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”—I Pet. 1:4,5

‘Kept by the power of God’. May this blessed assurance give us confidence to claim God’s promises by zealous devotion in the great vocation of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Let us do this with the full assurance that the Lord will be with us, and will provide all our needs, material and spiritual, according to the abundance of his grace. Let us resolve anew that we will win that incorruptible crown!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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