There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord . . . will award to me on that day.2 Timothy 4:8
On the night of April 3, 1968,Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he hints that he believed he might not live long. He said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. . . . [But] I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The next day, he was assassinated.
The apostle Paul, shortly before his death, wrote to his protégé Timothy: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. . . . Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:6, 8). Paul knew his time on earth was drawing to a close, as did Dr. King. Both men realized lives of incredible significance, yet never lost sight of the true life ahead. Both men welcomed what came next.
Like them, may we “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
41In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
What is your understanding of this life’s temporary nature?
How do you think it plays into the life that comes next?
Second Timothy is Paul’s final letter, written from a Roman prison where he was awaiting execution (see 4:6). Taking the total sweep of this chapter, we find three distinct sections in what is regarded as Paul’s last words. In verses 1–5, the apostle challenges and urges his young protégé Timothy to be faithful in carrying out the calling he has received—particularly the ministry of preaching the Scriptures. In verses 6–8, Paul gives his own testimony of service to Jesus and his readiness to see the Savior. The bulk of the remaining verses (vv. 9–18) deals with people who disappointed Paul and how he responded to that disappointment.