"An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."

II Timothy 2:5, RSV 


Have you ever been cheated? Maybe it was your child's "big game" when they lost because someone on the other team clearly violated the rules, but didn't get caught. Maybe it was that time in school when someone claimed credit for work that you had done, but it was they who got the reward and the praise. Or maybe it was that time you got in an auto accident that was someone else's fault, but they told a lie that ended up with your getting the blame and the ticket.


Regardless of the exact circumstances, we have all been cheated and we have all been disappointed that the rules weren't followed. We have all suffered loss of money, position, or prestige for the simple reason that somebody else cheated. Perhaps we even wished at the time that there had been a truthful witness or a just authority who could have come forward and set things right. But there was none, so we just got cheated. 


And it wasn't right and it wasn't fair.


Did you know that there is a truthful witness who sees everything that we do? Did you know that there is a just authority who will indeed come forward and set things right?


Did you know that He who will pass out the crown of life to those who have been faithful really does require us to go by the rules?


That's why we study! Because God is fair and He will give the crown of life to everyone who plays by the rules. 


And He is watching! The beautiful thing is that He is also rooting for us to win.


And we will win... if only we will play by His rules. That's fair, isn't it?


"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." II Timothy 4:8, RSV

"Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him" James 1:2, RSV

"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10, RSV 


Today is the 69th day of the challenge to study through the New Testament in 90 days, and the reading for today is II Timothy chapters 1 and 2. If you have studied this far, you have learned many things that you never knew before. One of the greatest truths you have learned is that the crown of life - eternal life - is available to every single person who abides by God's rules. You have learned that you have not earned this salvation, but that God through His grace has given you the right to pursue the crown. May God richly bless your efforts!