Crown of Glory: Undershepherd's Crown
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the first Epistle of Peter, chapter 5, verse 1:

I Peter 5

1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Notice especially verse 4:

You will recall that some time ago we began, in our series of prophetic discussions, to consider the judgments which are yet future. One of those judgments was the Judgment Seat of Christ. At that seat we will all appear to receive a reward for the deeds done in the body according to whether they are good or evil–that is, whether they be worth something or worth nothing. Everyone will receive some kind of reward, for every man shall have praise of God. The rewards which our Lord is pleased to bestow are presented in the Bible in the form of crowns–five of them. We have already considered four; now we consider the fifth one.

Five Crowns

We have thought about the Soul Winner's Crown, which is described in the Bible as the “Crown of Rejoicing,” that crown which is to be bestowed upon every believer who has had the privilege of having a part in the winning of any soul to Christ.

Then we thought about the Crown of Self-Denial, which is called the “Incurruptible Crown.” It is the crown which is bestowed upon every believer who is willing to keep the flesh under control, who is willing to deny himself, who is willing to live by mortifying the deeds of the flesh.

Then we discussed the third crown, which is related to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is called in the Scriptures the “Crown of Righteousness,” because it is given to every individual who loves the appearing of the Lord. Of course, the one who loves the appearing of the Lord will live the the blessed hope as the goal of his entire Christian experience.

In our last lesson, we discussed the crown that will be presented to the faithful servant. The Scriptures call it the “Crown of Life.” It will be presented to the believer who is faithful, to the believer who is faithful under trial, and to the believer who is faithful unto death.

For an Opportunity to Worship Christ

Now we come to the last of the five–the Crown of Glory. Let me suggest to you that we have not looked at these crowns in the order of their importance, because I have no way of knowing that one is any more important than the others.. We have looked at them only in the order in which they are found in the Word of God.

You may wonder why we as believers would be selfish enough to want crowns. Do we want to walk around the street of Heaven with our heads top-heavy, so to speak, with a great stack of crowns? Are we that full of self? No. The answer is that we want these crowns because we are going to have the opportunity to lay them at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. We and the twenty and four elders in the book of the Revelation will cast our crowns at the feet of the Lord. I want to have a crown–at least one–to give Him, and that is the reason why I do not want anyone to receive my crown.

Mistakenly Called the Pastor's Crown

The crown that we are now going to think about, the Crown of Glory, I believe has been mistakenly called the “pastor's crown.” Because it has been referred to as the “pastor's crown,” many of God's dear children begin to lose interest when you begin to talk about it. They say, “I am not a pastor and if I am not a pastor, then I will not be able to receive this crown, so I do not suppose there is much point in thinking about it.” I believe that if you will examine all the Scriptures related to this crown, you will find that it is erroneous to refer to it as a “pastor's crown.” I would rather refer to it as the “Undershepherd's Crown.”

Elders of an Assembly

I refer to it as the “Undershepherd's Crown” because of the address which the Apostle Peter makes in the first verse. Did you notice it?

I Peter 5

1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

In any assembly the Holy Spirit has more than one elder. That is the reason you find the word always in the plural. Elders are those individuals to whom the Holy Spirit has given the gift of being an elder. I would like to suggest to you that some of the requirements of elders, as they are presented in Paul's letters to Timothy and his letter to Titus, indicatetos us why it is proper to refer to this crown as the “Undershepherds's Crown.”

Need for Patience

One of the requirements of an elder is patience. Keep in mind that the word “elder” is not exclusively a reference to one who is old in age, but rather one who is mature in spiritual experience. If you have not realized it heretofore, you should now realize that spiritual maturity is not necessarily related to calender years. An elder must be patient enough to listen to all of the burdens and the heartaches and the troubles of the sheep in the flock. An elder is one who is a lover of good men–that is, a lover of men who are following the Lord. He wants to stand with them and be able to help them in whatever way he can.

Ability to Exhort

Another requirement of an elder is that he should be able to exhort. The word “exhort” means to encourage. He should be able to convince. The word “convince” means to exhort to the point of persuasion. This being the ministry of elders, you can see why I say to you that this crown is available not only to pastors who stand in the pulpit and preach the Word, but it is also available to all who recognize the privilege that is theirs of ministering to the flock of God. The word “flock” is emphasized in verse 2:

I Peter 5

2Feed the flock of God which is among you,…

God has His flocks everywhere. If you are part of a flock and you assume, under God, the responsibility of ministering to the needs of the flock, then you are one of God's undershepherds. Someone may say, “Well, when will I get my appointment?” The Holy Spirit will make it, and no doubt you will discover that you have the appointment in view of the needs with which you are faced and your ability under the Holy Spirit to meet those needs. You will recognize in verse 3 the word “flock” again and the word “heritage”–God's heritage–used in connection with the flock.

Crown Based On Discharge of Duties

This is a reason I am talking to undershephers in this message and not to pastors. If I were discussing this crown with regard to pastors, then I would reserve this message for a convention of preachers; but I believe it is a crown that is available to all who are willing to be undershepherds. Notice in verse 4 the reason for the crown:

I Peter 5

4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Shepherd, and every believer mature in Christian experience has the opportunity of being the undershepherd if he will. Being an undershepherd, he has the opportunity of receiving the crown–the Crown of Glory that fadeth not away. I would like to remind you that you do not receive this crown just because you consider yourself an undershepherd. The way that you discharge your duties as an undershepherd will determine whether or not you receive the crown. I trust the Holy Spirit of God will speak to our hearts as we recognize the way that we should discharge the duties of the undershepherd. Look at verses 2 and 3:

I Peter 5

2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Responsible for Feeding the Flock

As I look at these two verses I notice two responsibilities of the undershepherd. One of the responsibilities is described in verse 2 in the phrase “feed the flock of God which is among you.” You may say, “I am not a Bible teacher. I do not know anything about feeding a flock, so I could not very well fulfill that command.” We remind you that you have not grown all the food you feed your family. We remind you that you have not manufactured all the food that you set on the table, but you have a way of getting it.

If you have the opportunity of sitting under the ministry of the Word here or somewhere else, you have enough food to share with someone else. If you have not enough food to share with someone else, then you are not listening the way you ought to listen, and the Holy Spirit is not putting these things in your heart and your mind as He wants to put them there. You can feed the flock of God.

If we look at this word “feed” with regard to spiritual food only, then we miss the point entirely, because this word “feed” is a translation of a Greek word which elsewhere in the Scriptures is translated by the word “shepherd.” As a matter of fact, when you see the word “shepherd” in your New Testament, it is the noun form of this particular verb. What is it we are reading here? “Shepherd the flock.”

Tending the Flock In Other Ways

You know, sometimes people get the idea that when they have fed the flock that is all there is to do. Would you mothers feel that way? If you just prepared the food for the family, would you feel that there was nothing more to do? Of course not. You know, actually feeding the flock is a minor part of the whole thing. Feeding your family food is a minor part of all of the duties which fall upon the shoulders of you mothers. There is the keeping of the clothing and the provision of all that is necessary for the children to keep going. How many of you mothers could tell the number of sore toes you have tied up and the thumbs you have kissed and the encouragement you have given? It is all part of taking care of the flock.

Beloved, I want to remind you that you ought to open your eyes and your ears and recognize that all around you are some of God's dear flock, some of God's dear sheep, that need tending. It is not only that they need feeding; they need tending. There are broken hearts that need to be bound up. There are individuals who are bearing burdens that are too heavy for them and you and I as undershepherds have the privilege of bearing one another's burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ.

You and I have the opportunity of making it a little bit easier for some others. Accept the responsibility of tending the flock. By tending the flock of God as one of His undershepherds, you have the opportunity of receiving the Crown of Glory.

Looking Diligently After the Flock

Notice the second responsibility here in verse 2:

I Peter 5

2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof…

Notice the phrase “taking the oversight thereof.” That phrase is from one Greek word which means “to look diligently” after the flock, or “to look diligently” after other believers. Turn with me in you Bibles, please, to Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 14, and notice a translation of the same Greek word which means “looking diligently” after the flock of God:

Hebrews 12

14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Those Who Fail of the Grace of God

Did you notice the phrase “looking diligently?” There are three things that you and I are supposed to look diligently for in the relation to the flock of God. “Look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” Notice how the Scripture puts it. Grace never fails. Will you remember that? Grace never fails, but we fail of the the grace of God.

What are we told to do if we want this Crown of Glory? We are told to look over the assembly with which we are associated and see if perhaps some dear brother is failing in God's grace. Maybe some dear brother has not been in the services for some time, and you have not even noticed it. If you have noticed it, you have not particularly cared. You have not gone to see what the trouble is.

You know me well enough to know that I am not drumming up trade for services. You know that. But, Beloved, I do not know that we ought to ignore the absence of people from the assembly of the saints. Who knows: Maybe the Devil has made a special attack upon a Christian, and maybe his strength has failed. Maybe he has failed of the grace of God, and he needs that encouraging hand from an undershepherd that he may go on with the Lord.

One With a Root of Bitterness

Notice the instruction:

Hebrews 12

15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you,……

Look about you. Is there some brother who tends to become bitter about something? Do you shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh, well, he is just that way?” Do you take it to the Lord in prayer? That is part of the ministry of the undershepherd–to say, “Lord, this dear brother has bitterness in his heart and he does not realize it. Something must be done about it.”

A Profane Person

Now look at the next verse:

A profane person is a person who puts more emphasis upon the things of the flesh than he does upon spiritual things. Perhaps there is some brother or some sister in the assembly, and the things of the flesh are taking a great demand on him. You see the things of the flesh, you see materialism griping his heart. You shrug your shoulders and you say, “He is not as interested in spiritual things as he used to be,” and that is about all that is done about it.

Be the undershepherd you ought to be. If you cannot go to the dear brother or sister and point out how materialism is getting a grip, how he is going to lose the opportunity for blessing, as Esau lost it, at least you can take it to the Lord in prayer. You have a tremendous ministry as an undershepherd, and if you are a faithful undershepherd you will receive the Crown of Glory which fadeth not away.

Not By Constraint

It is not easy to be a faithful undershepherd. If you will go back to I Peter, chapter 5, you will notice a few suggestions about it:

I Peter 5

2…….. taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Now, notice the triple exhortation in these two verses. First: If you exercise the ministry of the undershepherd, do it not by constraint. Do it willingly. Do you know what “by constraint” means? It means “of necessity,” or feeling compelled to do it. Now listen carefully. Has there been some sick individual to whom you have been called to minister as an undershepherd? It is not very pleasant to minister to him, it it? Somtimes when you have gone to minister to him, you have gone because you had to. There was no way for you to get out of it. They would not understand if you did not do it. Someone might criticize you if you did not go, so you went. That is taking the oversight by constraint.

I am going to tell you something that you may not like to hear: You are not going to get a crown for that visit. The Crown of Glory does not go to the undershepherd who does what he does because he has to do it, and not because he is willing to do it.

Not for Filthy Lucre

Second: If you carry on the ministry of the undershepherd, you should do it not for filthy lucre's sake. “Filthy lucre” in the Bible is usually interpreted as referring to money, and certainly that could be included, but it is not exclusively a reference to money. We are told to do what we do, not with the idea of gaining something. Is that what you do as an undershepherd? Do you feed the hungry with the idea of gaining something? Do you minister as an undershepherd with the idea of gain? If you do, then you are not going to receive a Crown of Glory. Instead of doing it for filthy lucre's sake, you should do it with a ready mind.

These words “ready mind” come from a single Greek word which speaks of being predisposed to do something–that is, always ready to do it. You do it because it is just part of you. You do it because it is just part of your very nature. That is the way God wants it. He does not want you to carry on the ministry of the undershepherd out of a sense of obligation, but He wants you to do it because you love to do it. You are prredisposed to do it. You do it with a ready mind.

Examples to the Flock

Now the third thing he says is, “when you perform the ministry of the undershepherd, you should do it not as being lords over God's heritage, but rather as being examples to the flock.” You know what it means to be a lord over God's heritage–you “lord” it over everyone; you tell everyone what ought to be done, but you never do it yourself. You tell everyone how he ought to live, but you do not show him any examples. You go around griping about the fact that people are not friendly, but you are not friendly yourself. You go around griping about the fact that no one is interested in the sick and the afflicted, but you are not either. You see, if you practice the ministry of the undershepherd, you are to set the example. You set the example of ministering, or tending the flock of God.

Abundant Opportunities for Service

Now, Beloved, the last sentence in the paragraph begins with:

I Peter 5

4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear,……..

He is going to appear one of these days. aThe Bible speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ as the good Shepherd in John, chapter 10. It speaks of Him as the great Shepherd in Hebrews, chapter 13. It speaks of Him as the chief Shepherd in I Peter, chapter 5. The good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep; the great Shepherd is interceding for the sheep all the time; the chief Shepherd is coming back for the sheep. When He comes back, He has a crown for every undershepherd, the Crown of Glory that fades not away.

Beloved, there may be some of these crowns that some of us may not be able to receive, for any number of reasons. But I see no reason why, if you are a child of God, you could not receive the Crown of Glory, the Crown of the Undershepherd. Certainly you do not need to look for an opportunity. It is on every side: All you need to do is minister to those who are in need and you will have all you can do. I hope you will seek the crown for the undershepherd, the Crown of Glory that fadeth not away.


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