I love hymns. For decades I have sung them with full voice, appreciated the theological depth they add to my worship, and memorized their lyrics while meditating on the timeless truths so many of them contain. They have been my close companions when days are dark and dismal, when I’ve felt oppressed and tested, as well as when my heart soars in glorious celebration.

Recently my thoughts were arrested by the last two lines of one of Charles Wesley’s hymns as I pondered:

Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.

We’re entering a season of gift-giving, which brings us great delight. Who doesn’t find joy watching someone we love open a gift we have wrapped just for them?

Yet I would like to suggest that we change our focus for at least a few moments before Christmas Day and think of the crowns our Lord has wrapped for us, which we will accept—and then immediately give back to Him. These are the ones Wesley had in mind.
  • The imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:24–27). This will be awarded to those who consistently bring the flesh under the Spirit’s control, refusing to yield to its evil desires.
  • The crown of exultation (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19–20). This crown will be received by those servants who faithfully share the good news of salvation, leading souls to the Savior.
  • The crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:7–8). Our Lord will award this crown to all who live each day anticipating Christ’s imminent return in the clouds for His Own.
  • The crown of life (James 1:12). This crown is reserved for those who endure great suffering and trials, loving the Lord.
  • The crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:1–4). This crown is reserved for the faithful “shepherd of the flock” who has carried out the responsibilities as set forth by Peter in verses 2 and 3.
And how will God’s servants respond after unwrapping such magnificent rewards given because of His grace? There will be one glorious crown-casting expression of worship, the likes of which no earthly Christmas could compare! And instead of walking around the room picking up ribbons and paper after it’s over, we’ll all be harmonizing on some heavenly hymn sung to the Lamb as we are kneeling before Him, “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”