The Bible tells us that God has a lot of glory and honor in store for believers in Jesus Christ. True Christians, after they are ressurrected, will receive rewards for their genuine service to God. In fact the Bible says that the ressurrected believers will “reign” with Jesus one day when he comes back to take formal command of the Earth (Revelation 5:10, 20:4).
However, the fact that God will honor us for our faithful service does not mean that we should parade around as if we are kings yet. We have not yet faced judgment at the judgment seat of Christ, where all believers will have to give an account of everything they have ever done. We should not act as if we have already been commended by God for our good works, for the day of judgment is still in the future:
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (I Corinthians 4:5)
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul criticizes the Corinthian church for behaving as if the judgment seat of Christ has already passed, and they have already been awarded crowns. Paul uses sarcasm to rebuke them for their presumptious attitudes:
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! (I Corinthians 4:8)
Paul, here, rebukes these arrogant believers for acting as if they have begun to reign already, without us, that is to say, without the apostles. The apostles had put a lot of prayer and ministry and hard work into establishing and discipling this church, but now the members of this church were beginning to despise those very apostles and acting as if they were superior to them! Paul says he wishes they really had begun to reign, that is to say, that the judgment seat of Christ had already taken place and that they had passed muster. This was certainly what Paul was hoping for long term. He was looking forward to a day when the converts in Corinth would be judged faithful to God, and that the Apostles themselves would receive honor alongside them so that they also might reign with the Corinthian church. But now he is reminding the church that that day had not come yet. There was a lot of sin in the church that needed to be dealt with first; there was a lot to repent of. But the Corinthian church failed to see this. They were so proud of their supposed accomplishments to date, that they arrogantly behaved as if they had already finished the Christian race.
We should learn from this example by not becoming arrogant. We all need to humble ourselves and plead to God for guidance, knowing that our judgment is still future. Some day we will be rewarded if by God’s grace we are found faithful. But that day has not come yet. Nor will it ever come if we do not obey and serve Christ as we should now.