"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
The Apostle Paul ministered for more than 30 years, during which time his faith was severely tested. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned (2 Corinthians 11). Often he was hungry, thirsty and cold. Finally, he was executed. Through it all he never turned his back on Christ. He had his eye on the prize -- "the crown of righteousness" from the Lord Himself -- and he longed for His appearance. "All who live in expectation of the coming of Christ, who anticipate it with joyfulness, having buried the world and laid up all their hopes above. Here is a reward, but it is a reward not of debt but of grace; for it is by the grace of God that even an apostle is fitted for glory. And this reward is common to the faithful; it is given, not only to apostles, but to all them that love his appearing. This crown is laid up - it is in view, but not in possession. We must die first." -- Adam Clarke