Not to Me Only
by Jacob Hudgins
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”(2 Tim 4:8)
What hope there is in these words! Paul is nearing his death, and he knows it: “the time of my departure is at hand”(2 Tim 4:6). We stand in awe of his confidence, and perhaps are a little jealous of the fact that he can say so boldly “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”(2 Tim 4:7). Yet in describing the reward that awaits him, he stresses that such a life and such a hope can be had by anyone. Paul says, amazingly, that the Lord will give a crown “not to me only”—there is hope for us too!
The fight and race are for us too! While Paul certainly had a special work as an apostle that we do not share, he was involved in the same “good fight” and “race” that we are. His fight was against Satan and his servants: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”(2 Cor 10:4-5). This is our fight! We daily wage war with the devil, with the fate of our soul at stake! More, we fight against him as we do the work of God in saving souls, speaking out against sin, and being examples for good. How encouraging to know that Paul fought this fight too—and that he could say, “I have fought the good fight”! We are running the race of faith in Christ—“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”(Phil 3:14). This is our race too! What a blessing to know that, at the end of our time here, we can say with Paul “I have finished the race”! The fight and race are not easy—what fight or race ever is?—yet Paul never says that he regrets his effort or the direction of his life. But these contests are not just for the great men of God—not just for apostles, and prophets, and Bible men and women. They are the contests that face every servant of God!
The crown is for us too! Having achieved victory, Paul now awaits his prize: “the crown of righteousness”. Olympic athletes competed for a wreath of laurels; Christians strive for an eternal crown of righteousness. Paul excitedly speaks of the time when God will bestow it on him—and “and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”. The crown is for us too! If we love the appearing of Jesus, if we will fight and run for Him, He will reward us in eternity!
Don’t let this promise gather dust on the pages of your Bible! Let it drive you to better service, better fighting, better running! Let it strengthen your resolve to fight against the devil! God holds out heaven for Paul—and not for him only—but for all who will serve Him!