With Valentine’s Day coming, love has been on my mind a lot. Today, as part of my devotional reading, I read a portion of Scripture that deals with things that can distract us from our first love.
I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first (Revelation 2:2-5a NLT).
That is from the letter to the church of Ephesus in Revelation. In this letter that the Lord instructs John to write, He praises the Ephesian church for their good works, patient endurance of suffering and their use of wisdom and discernment. However, the Lord has a complaint to register with the Ephesian church: They have lost their first love.
Doesn’t that sound heartbreaking? For any of you girls who have been in love, you can imagine how tragic the loss of a first love is. I originally read this in the New Revised Standard Bible. I used the New Living Translation here because while most traditional translations just say “you have lost your first love,” the NLT clarifies that phrase a little bit. The Ephesian church has lost their first passionate love–not only for Christ, but for other people as well.
Sometimes I am so caught up in all the things I have to do that I forget about the people I’m doing them for. I forget that my motivation for doing is supposed to come from Him. I love Him and that love spills over into love for other people, the special creation that He loves so desperately.
That is the reminder Jesus Christ wanted John to deliver to the Ephesian church. They’d become so wrapped up in doing good works and patiently enduring suffering that they’d forgotten why they started doing those things in the first place.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, Jesus didn’t say “do good works and endure patiently”:
And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NASB).
The Ephesian church once had this fiery love for God and people, but that love had cooled off a bit. It’s so important that we check the state of our hearts regularly to make sure our fiery love for God and people has not cooled. If it has, then we need to pray and ask God to rekindle it so it burns as hot and bright as it did in the beginning.
Do you need God to rekindle this passionate love in your heart?
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).