You Have Left Your First Love

In the book of Revelation, Jesus takes the opportunity to address seven churches and talk about their good and bad characteristics. Recently, something happened that made me think of one of these letters, the letter to church at Ephesus.

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: ‘I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. … But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

Revelation 2:1-3, 6-7 NKJV

This part of what Jesus had to say to the church at Ephesus seems very positive and encouraging. The Ephesians had not fallen prey to false doctrine. This would be particularly encouraging considering Paul’s warning and admonition to the elders in Ephesus on his third preaching journey (Acts 20:28-32). He also says they had labored without “becoming weary.” How many of us would be thrilled to receive such commendations directly from Jesus?

Yet, in one of the verses that was not included above, Jesus threatened, “Or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place…” (Revelation 2:5 NKJV) Considering the other positive statements about this church, what could they have done that jeopardized their relationship with Christ? Jesus accuses, ” I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4 NKJV) The indication, then, is that while they had maintained certain outward attributes of their relationship with Christ, their love for Him had, in fact, faded.

How is a “faded love” displayed. This is often reflected in a reduced level of zeal and excitement for the object of one’s love. How might this be reflected in our relationship with Christ?

  • To help us understand, I want to present another example of a fading of a certain kind of love. Consider a relationship between a man and a woman:
    • When they first meet, there is generally a lot of excitement to be together. They don’t want to spend time apart.
    • Additionally, in most cases, whenever they are going to be together there is a high level of willingness to be at their best when when they are together. This includes physical appearance, how they conduct themselves, how they spend every moment together talking to each other and being close to each other.
    • Then they get married. And, at first, during the “honeymoon phase,” they continue to try to please one another and spend time together.
    • Unfortunately, in most cases, in time there becomes a sense of “we have the relationship, we don’t really have to work on it.” Work, children, hobbies, and other activities began to take away their time together and erode the emotions of love between the couple. There is no longer the strong desire to spend every available moment together.
    • This relationship may not in an affair or a divorce, but they are together while not necessarily “in love” any more. It’s just not the same relationship it once was.
  • Compare this with what happens with many Christians:
    • Many new Christians are full of zeal and enthusiasm.
    • They are in love with Christ and His word. They spend time studying and growing in the knowledge of His word.
    • Maybe their enthusiasm and love for Christ is exhibited in talking to others about Christ.
    • They may strive to increase their ability to serve: Men wanting to lead in worship; Women wanting to learn to teach.
    • But then, time passes. The relationship becomes stale. Family, children, work, hobbies began to take their time away from Christ and His Word.
    • Maybe they never “fall away” in the sense of stopping assembling with the saints. Maybe they never accept false doctrine.
    • But, they no longer have the zeal to study the word of God. They may feel that they no longer need to serve because the have “served enough.” They believe they have a relationship with Christ, but they no longer have a love for the relationship.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that something happened to me recently that sparked these thoughts. I was cleaning out an old file cabinet trying to get everything to fit in a smaller storage unit. I came across some old notes I had made when studying 1 Corinthians when I was a younger man. What I saw made me ashamed of recent attempts to study God’s word. I saw detailed notes and in depth research trying to understand the meaning of God’s word. I saw study that took time and effort. I saw study that reflected a deep love for God and His word. And, I realized that I haven’t studied the Bible that way in a long time. I have a lot of “reasons” why I haven’t studied like that in long time, but I believe the underlying root cause is failure to love Christ and His word like I should.

So, how do we correct a loss of our “first love?” Jesus tells the Ephesians the answer: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first work.” (Revelation 2:5 NKJV) The answer is two-fold:

  • Repent: Change your heart. This love for Christ and His work is not optional to be Christian. Christ requires not just our rote service, but our heart.
  • Do the first work: Apply that love to our lives. It will change how we act. It’s not possible to love Christ as we should and not behave differently.

What motivates us to this love? One motivation is provided in this text: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7 NKJV)

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

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Desire The Pure Milk Of The Word

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, [1 Peter 2:1-2 NKJV]”

Most people who profess to be Christians talk about wanting to grow in spiritual and moral conduct and thought. Many excuses are given for why we can’t change our habits and seem to be trapped in the same bad habits year after year. Yet, Peter provides the formula for “laying aside” the bad habits from the world: Desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”

If person wants to lose weight or improve their health, one of the first things they need to do is change their eating habits. If a person says they want to lose weight, but can’t understand why they don’t, you might ask what they are eating. If they respond with, “My normal menu is three slices of bacon, four eggs, biscuits and gravy for breakfast; double cheeseburger with bacon, large fries, and extra large non-diet soda for lunch; and steak, loaded baked potato, and a large slice of apple pie a la mode for dessert for dinner; and a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce for before bed for a snack.” Any logical thinking person would say, “You can’t lose weight eating like that!”

So, if we can understand that our bodies need a certain nutrition to change our weight or health, why can’t we understand that our mind and spirit need a special kind of nutrition to become what God wants us to be.

Consider some additional passages:

  • “The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul; [Psalms 19:7 NKJV]” – To “convert” is to “turn back or restore.” If we want to return our soul to what God desires, we need to spend some time with the law of the Lord.
  • “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. [Psalms 119:9 NKJV]” – Young people constantly find service to the Lord challenging. What can help them overcome these challenges and temptations? Spending time in the word of God.
  • “For the commandment [is] a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life, To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. [Proverbs 6:23-24 NKJV]” – How many sexual sins could be avoided if people would spend time in the counsel of God’s word?
  • “You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they [are] ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies [are] my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. [Psalms 119:98-100 NKJV]” – Where do we get the wisdom to change who we are and how we live? From the commandments, testimonies, and precepts of God.

So, which are we filling are minds with? The commandments and word of God or movies, TV shows, books, etc. that…

  • Mock God and serving Him.
  • That undermine the principles of His word by teaching that immorality is OK and promote conduct that God would condemn.
  • That are filled with language we should be ashamed of and that God would certainly not approve.

There are only so many hours in a day. If we spending all of our time filling our minds with the things that make us spiritually fat and lazy, how can we find the time to nurture our mind and spirit with the God’s word to help us become the person God wants us to become.

Which spiritual diet will you choose?

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)