Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Casting Crowns

There is a song I love. It’s a song that reminds of a reward to be realized for a life well-lived. And if somebody can sang, not just sing, that song, I guarantee you will tear up as you determine to press your way through whatever situation or circumstance has you questioning throwing in the towel. It’s a simple song: “I Shall Wear a Crown.”

Let’s be real: Who goes through life choosing to turn the other cheek, bridling the tongue, and loving enemies NOT to receive the crown? Who takes the abuse and ridicule, pretending like the side eye or inside jokes at her expense do not really matter if she can’t “tell the story…when it’s all over?” None of us wants to believe that a life of obedience will result in anything less than eternal reward.

So imagine the amount of “get right” I had to own when I read this in Revelation 4: 9-11:

“Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.'” (NKJV)

If we back up to verse 8, we learn that the living creatures “do not rest day or night, saying ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come.'” This is the action that prompts the elders, representative of all believers (as illustrated by Revelation 5: 9), to be in this perpetual state of crown-casting worship of God. It is a constant realization and acknowledgement that whatever reward or glory we may receive is only a result of the majesty, sovereignty (notice the repetition of “He who sits on the throne” and “who lives forever and ever” for emphasis, so we won’t gloss over the fact that this story is not ours, but His), and grace of the most worthy God! In heaven, the crowns that He gives us are placed in reverence at His feet over and over again because we humbly and without fatigue recognize His deserved honor!

In one of his sermons, C. H. Spurgeon questions, “Have you been very good and industrious, very consistent and persevering, and do you feel you deserve a good deal of esteem and honor as an acknowledgment of your distinguished services? My dear friend, I am afraid you are learning a music that will never answer in heaven. There is no one in glory that ever says — ‘I have done well: I deserve credit and honor.’ Quite the reverse. There the one music is, ‘Non nobis Domine!‘ ‘Not unto us, Lord! Not unto us!'”

What’s your heart song, Friend? Is it one that concedes that even in heaven, we will never be worthy of the crown that His grace provides? Or is it a song of “me, me, me, me, me” like the cartoon warm ups of our youth? If we’re anything alike, you, too, need to pick up your face and pray for a clean heart.

Father, help us see You and Your glory, that we may possess right perspective: one that acknowledges Your holiness, Your honor, Your sovereignty, and Your grace. Let our love for You drive our obedience, and let us not get caught up in ourselves, seeking our own glory or vindication or reward. Instead, let us honor You with our living simply because You and You alone are worthy! Amen!

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