“There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.”
His appearing is described many times in the old covenant as a day of retribution and judgment. “The great day of the Lord is near — near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.” (Zephaniah 1:14-15, NIV) “In the fire of His jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for He will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:18)
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3)
Who are these who “will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger?” “Those who have loved His appearing,” says Paul.
Jesus says, “This then is the judgment: The light has come into the world, but people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” (John 3:19-21, HCSB)