“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love…He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:4, 7).
Question for Deep Consideration:
Is your love for Jesus, His work, and His people more or less than during the beginning of your walk with Him?
While I would love to examine the details of the exact nature of the problems going on in Ephesus, it would be more efficient for us to consider some of the basic principles, then apply them, in the short devotional time we have here today.
It is critical to see the heart of God in His counsel to the church of Ephesus. With all of the many things the all-searching eye of the Almighty can see, and thus could emphasize, He went to the most basic principle of high quality relationship—love. Somehow, amid their zeal against the false teachings of Gnosticism (look it up), etc., they lost their way. Their issue was of a more insidious sort. They loved Bible teachings in their purity, fought hard against false teachings coming into the church, but lost much of their love for the God of truth. They, no doubt, had been so buffeted by the battle against heresy that it broke up the church. In these cases, when contention arises for extended periods of time, many often take their eyes off their God, and fix them upon the problems, arguments, and various issues. In this, the enemy is pleased.
We must remember that our God is a jealous God. He is passionate about having our deepest affections. He is pleased when our intellect is engaged in the gospel work, to be sure, yet, He is even more pleased when this is coupled with a heart commitment to love. It was love that compelled Him to give us His Son to save us from our sins; therefore, it is this life changing principle that keeps us closest to Him. It is the principle that knits us together as brothers and sisters in faith, which is the signal to unsaved people, that we are His true followers. Heavenly love has the power to convert hopeless sinners into healthy saints. Drunkenness, promiscuity, domestic violence, pride, envy, gossip, addictions, etc., have no power against godly love if we continue therein. This is part of the reason God approached Ephesus on this.
Not only did God highlight the fact that His people’s love waned, but He also empowered them to repent. Inherent in God’s call to repentance, is His power to do so. The same voice that declared, “Let there be light…” also bid His children to return to their first love. His expectations were so high for them, that He promised overcomers an eternal reward to have access to the blessed Tree of Life in the midst of the paradise of God. Were it not possible for His people to repent, He would not have promised a blessing for their repentance. He knew that they could hear His voice and follow His counsel.
As in all healthy relationships, in order to foster love, we must invest quality time with our loved one. Alone time with God everyday is essential for a thriving relationship. Unhurried time in prayer, thoughtful consideration of His words, and asking Him what would make Him happiest for the particular day goes a long way toward experiencing mutual love.
Gift giving is another valued principle in healthy relationships. While God is the owner of all things and we cannot buy Him a gift in the traditional sense, we can give Him our hearts. We can give Him our supreme affections. We can give Him our undivided attention. Thus giving God ourselves is the greatest gift we can give. After all, this is why Jesus gave His life for us. He wanted to make it possible for us to live together forever. He values this kind of gift.
There are so many ways to return to our first love, that we could write an entire chapter, or even book on just that (which I have actually done in the past), but suffice it to say, if we simply surrender ourselves to God, this principle will be alive and well in our lives. He will lead us every step of the way.
A Prayer for Your Hearts:
Lord, please help us to love you in the same way you loved us first. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.