"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future 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 4:7-8)
I recently turned 65 years old. A milestone that makes me eligible for Medicare to help pay for the increasing health problems that come with the so called "golden years". It's like that old joke (no pun intended); "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." I like my grand daughter Trinity's perspective. "Papa, you're not old... Just older."
There are no promised days for any of us. Life is a gift of God and He alone has our days numbered. But when you are young and healthy, you don't spend much time thinking about the end of life, let alone, the importance of finishing well. The Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy knowing that his time on earth was quickly coming to an end and he gave Timothy and us an example of how to finish well. Paul fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith, even while suffering greatly. Our friend, Larry Wright, put it this way; "I would rather suffer obediently than prosper disobediently because I know my obedient suffering is as temporary as my disobedient prospering."
Like Paul, every Christian should be diligent to trust and obey the Lord at all times and in every circumstance because there are great rewards in this life and the life to come. Paul reminds us that the Lord will reward all who have loved His appearing, rewarding them with "stephanos", the Greek word referring to the victor's crown . We will all stand before the Lord victorious someday at the "Bema Seat" to be judged and rewarded according to the quantity and quality of our faith and obedience (see 1 Corinthians 3:8-15).
The "Bema Seat" judgment is only for those who are heaven bound. All others will be judged at the "Great White Throne" judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15). If there are any regrets in heaven, I think it may be that we failed to earn more of these "stephanos" . For me, the past 65 years are in the books and there are many more days behind me than in front of me. But like Paul, we need to forget the past and focus on finishing well. "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14). Maranatha!