Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award. (2 Tim. 4:8)

During high school, I spent two years living with a friend’s family. I had known her parents for years, but when I came into their home, I suddenly had responsibilities, expectations—and that changed our relationship. At first I thought I needed to finish my new chores to earn my reward, a place in their home. But slowly our relationship developed, and I began to understand the true order of things. They had already given me a place in their home; I just did the chores they gave me out of gratitude.

It’s easy to think any crowns we receive are rewards for our own righteousness. But really, the work of the Christian life, according to Paul, is a natural and vital expression of gratitude for the grace Christ has already freely given us. In fact, one reason we ought to long for Christ’s coming is our unrighteousness: When Christ appears, his mercy, grace, and justice will thankfully supplant our own imperfect attempts at the same.

This is one of the difficult balances of Christian life. We must both acknowledge our imperfection—longing for Christ’s perfecting work to be finished—and continue to work conscientiously—as the body of Christ—to enact his vision of redemption for ourselves and our fallen world. As 2 Timothy reminds us, though, God’s righteousness will be our reward for such longing.

Think about how longing for Christ’s coming should shape your everyday life.

Lindsey Priest is an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate and lives in Arkansas with her husband and two sons. She likes to read to the kids, play video games with her husband, and refurbish furniture.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.