We know from Scripture that Christ has reserved for His people imperishable crowns (1 Corinthians 9:25-25), and believers should aspire to guard them jealously. Jesus warned the church in Philadelphia to guard their crowns so that no one steals them. Unfortunately, many Christians are not aware of these crowns and do not put any effort to ensure that they earn them.
This theology is, sadly, not popular among African Christians, and I believe that ignorance of this is a calculated attempt of the devil to steal these rewards so that we do not have them when Christ returns.
The devil always wants to stop Christians from having the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8) by making us mind earthly things without recourse to the coming Kingdom. This crown is promised to Christians who love and anticipate the Second Coming of Christ. Paul had the conviction that he had earned this crown after working tirelessly to evangelize the gentile nations. We should be no different. As believers we need to strive to spread the Gospel to the unreached, no matter the cost. Jesus will not return until the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached to all the world (Mathew 24:14).
Paul also talks about an imperishable crown in 1 Corinthians 9:25, to show the durability of the crown when compared to the gains of this world, which are perishable. The enemy does not want us to have this crown by making sure that selfishness and quest for wealth control our lives. He gives us the other gospel which promotes self and causes Christians to go after comfort and luxury at the expense of this crown. When Christ invited us to deny ourselves, carry our Cross and follow Him, He was inviting us to come and wear the incorruptible crown that He prepared for us from eternity.
The “crown of glory” is found in 1 Peter 5:4. This is reserved for ministers who shepherd the flock with love and righteousness. Christians who deny themselves, and sacrificially work in God's vineyard without looking for gains, are qualified for this unfading crown of glory. The devil manipulates ministers of the Gospel to focus on selfish gain while during ministry work. We should always strive as laborers in the vineyard of God to serve selflessly and shun filthy lucre. I ask God every day to deliver me from myself and from the love of money because I know that the things that will come between me and this crown is selfishness and the quest for self-aggrandizement.
The “crown of life” in James 1:12 and Revelation 2:10 is prepared for those who persevere under trials and persecutions as a proof of their love for Christ. It is also meant for those who endure torture even unto death for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus encouraged the church in Smyrna to endure afflictions and be ready to die. Those who are beheaded for the sake of the Gospel shall wear this crown to reign with Jesus during the millennium rule (Revelation 20:4). Fear and self-love are the weapon that Satan uses to stop us from having this crown. Through them, he makes us practice risk-free Christianity. For us to earn this crown, we must be ready to suffer for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. We must be bold and firm in time of persecutions and tribulations with the understanding that there is a crown to be won if we persevere to the end.
It is the desire of God that every soul on this planet should be brought to Him through evangelism and missions. Paul had the assurance that he had earned his crown after evangelizing Thessalonica. Those who desire this crown must be involved in soul winning; especially in taking the Gospel to those who have not heard of Jesus.
Never forget that the command to preach the Gospel is given to all of us, and these crowns are promised to us at the end of our Christian race. We must not be oblivious of the enemies’ schemes. His objectives are to ensure that we become fearful and complacent. Christ is coming quickly to reward those who have done the work which He commanded (Revelation 22:12). We must always keep that in mind.