henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing. [2 timothy 4:8]

one of the most amazing things to me about my salvation is that it isn’t just me. God is saving a people – his people – not just a bunch of individual persons. we are one body. one church. throughout history. and that is pretty crazy to me. i love paul’s enthusiasm for other’s salvation in this passage. not just my crown, he says, but everyone else that follows Jesus also! this is the day he’s looking forward to more than anything and part of his excitement is the joy of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

my four year old is particularly good at celebrating things in other people’s lives. i got a new phone recently and he was probably more excited for me than i was to get it. and that’s possible for him because he genuinely wants good things for me. he is celebrating me, not just the thing. but often times our sense of corporate celebration is overshadowed by the perspective that another person’s gain equals my shortfall.

i think this can happen in the christian life a couple of ways. certainly we see it when there is someone in our lives that we simply don’t want to see join us in receiving the crown of righteousness. possible someone that has harmed us or others, and we have decided they are not worth saving. we also see this mindset come out when fellow believers are given a gifting, responsibility, or role that we would desire for ourselves but don’t have. instead of seeing the full picture of how the body as a whole benefits, we view this as something being taken from us.

this mindset creeps in when our focus is on the gift rather than the one receiving the gift, and more importantly, the giver. in this case the giver is the righteous judge – the Lord. this concept is illustrated by Jesus in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. read this passage and process through these questions:

  • what are any areas in my life where i find it hard to rejoice with others?
  • why do i react with jealousy, bitterness, sadness, etc, instead of with joy?
  • do i trust the righteous judge and his generosity?

matthew 20:1–16

“for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. after agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. and going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘you go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right i will give you.’ so they went. going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. and about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. and he said to them, ‘why do you stand here idle all day?’ they said to him, ‘because no one has hired us.’ he said to them, ‘you go into the vineyard too.’ and when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ and when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. and on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘these last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ but he replied to one of them, ‘friend, i am doing you no wrong. did you not agree with me for a denarius? take what belongs to you and go. i choose to give to this last worker as i give to you. am i not allowed to do what i choose with what belongs to me? or do you begrudge my generosity?’ so the last will be first, and the first last.”

~ keith kozlowski