“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Jesus to the believers of the church at Ephesus, Revelation 2:4
Of what were the Ephesian Christians guilty? Had they forsaken the Gospel and turned to false teachers? No. “I know [that]…you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false” (1). Did they lose sight of the good works of righteousness to which Christ had called them and instead turned to the temporal pleasures of sin? Not at all. “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men” (2). Perhaps they had simply tired of the salvation that cost them so much? No, but rather “you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary” (3). Where then had they fallen?
Their actions had not failed. They had run hard after the will of God, but had left the God of the will behind. Their hearts had forgotten Him for whom they were persevering.
Where is my heart? What sways it in the fleeting days of this life? Am I Martha, so busy trying to serve the Lord, even reading about Him daily, but not taking the time to sit at His feet and merely listen? Am I swooned by the feeling of service and doing good deeds, or by the thought of my Savior and every opportunity to talk to Him and love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Does the thought of an earthly companion fill my stomach with butterflies more than the Father who created such love to dwell between two people for His eternal glory?
How I go astray! I immerse myself in the joys of heavenly worship, soak in the blessings the Lord has graciously granted each day, and then by neglect, ask Him to have a seat while I fret about a momentary trial. I witness a beautiful wedding and partake in the celebration of the bride and groom, and then I forget that the same God who transformed two strangers into one flesh is more than able to do the same with me in His perfect timing. While I talk about wanting to make an impact in the world, the Lord continues to say, “You cannot be fully used by Me until I am your supreme Desire, the One your mind unceasingly focuses upon. I am to be your first, and in comparison to all others, your ONLY love.”
So where do I go from here? The multiplicity of good works is clearly not the answer. Faith without works may be dead, but works without consistent faith in the Lord are equally useless. It all comes down to the heart. If I am passionate for the Lord, knowing Him, and glorifying Him, then both faith and love will pour forth as I focus on Him and pursue His will, revealed in the Scriptures.
My first love is really His first love – “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us” (4). What is love? Love drives us to live for something. My first love should emblazon me to live for Him.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
when shall I come and appear before God?”
“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
my lips will praise You.”
“’Therefore remember from where you have fallen,
and repent and do the deeds you did at first;
…he who has an ear, let him hear…
To him who overcomes, I will grant him to eat
of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’”
Psalm 42:1-2, 63:1, Revelation 2:5,7
(1) Revelation 2:2b
(2) Revelation 2:2a
(3) Revelation 3:3
(4) 1 John 3:16
(c) 2007 Veritas Road