The Crowning (continued)
The Crown of Glory
"When the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive
the crown of glory." What is the crown of glory? Well, it is simply the nature of righteousness and life maintaining itself; for righteousness is glory hidden, glory is righteousness manifested. Glory? It may be that somehow or other it will be perceivable glory in the sense of some radiance about us personally. Sometimes you can almost see that in people - those in whom there is such an utterness of devotion to the Lord and such a complete selflessness of life. In such people you sometimes see something of a radiance about them, even physically. At any rate, looking at it the other way round, it is true to say that in people who are always occupied with themselves, and taken up with their own troubles and the difficulties of their way, you do not see very much that is other than a dark shadow, even over their faces. They bring nothing of light and brightness and glory with them. Well, it may be that actual, literal glory will break out through these glorified bodies at last; but I believe the source of it and the seat of it is spiritual. It is that life of the Lord manifesting itself in fullness. It is that nature of the Lord - righteousness - breaking out and showing exactly what it is. It is the out-breaking of the triumph over sin and death that is glory.
It is very significant to notice the setting of Peter's words. He has just been talking to the under-shepherds, and telling them to feed the flock - not for filthy lucre, not for praise, not that they should get something for themselves, and not because they are under an obligation to do it; but to do it selflessly, disinterestedly, abandoned to the Lord's interests, denying themselves. It may be costly to do this work for the Lord, but if you do it like that, with no other motive or object than the satisfaction of the Lord, "when the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory." Well, it is, in the end, the result of this self-life having been completely set aside and of the Lord alone filling our vision and governing our hearts and being our motive.
Righteousness - God having His place, and because of that there is release, there is life, there is victory, and when God has His place and the life of God is regnant in us, then there is glory at the end. These three crowns, these three seals, these three marks that we have triumphed, that the Lord has got what He set His heart upon - with these He attests in the end those who have been with Him in the battle. The battleground, righteousness; the object of the battle, life; the outcome of the battle, glory.
May the Lord find us all in the running for the three crowns; but it is a battle, a deadly battle, and an inward battle. I sometimes think it would be so much easier if we were only in an outward battle; if only we could strike out against something objective. When the thing to be overcome is inside, when it is myself that must be slain, it is not so easy. May we be faithful unto death.