Every time I read through Revelation, I’m always struck by the letters to the churches because I know that John didn’t write them only for the churches that existed at that time. I know those letters are just as important for the church today as they were for the church during John’s lifetime.
Today I want to talk to you about what I often think might be the most important church letter in Revelation: the letter to the Church in Ephesus.
Let’s start by looking at what Ephesus was doing well.
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.” —Revelation 2:2-3
Wow, Ephesus is doing so many things right!
The Lord says that He knows their deeds and toil and perseverance. The Lord knows that they work hard doing good deeds and that they continue doing good deeds and don’t give up.
The people of Ephesus know the Word of God so well that they have tested false prophets and teachers and discovered them to be false. It takes a lot of study and a lot of discernment to do that.
Like many churches at that time, Ephesus was under attack from nonbelievers, but they continued to persevere and endure persecution and didn’t give up.
But Ephesus is missing one thing, and it’s an important thing.
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” —Revelation 2:4
Girls, I read this verse and it just breaks my heart. How sad that they’ve left their first love. The New Living Translation (paraphrase) puts it this way: “You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first.” Any way you translate it, though, the Ephesians have let the fire of their love grow cold.
They’re still doing all the right things and they know God’s Word inside and out, but they’re so focused on doing things that they aren’t slowing down to just spend time with and love God.
Think about the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha is busy running around getting everything perfect for Jesus’s visit, while Mary sits on the floor hanging on Jesus’s every word. Martha gets frustrated and confronts Jesus about the situation, but Jesus just calms Martha down and explains that in that moment with the Son of God sitting in their living room, the best thing to do is just spend time with Him.
Martha wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was working, and we’re called to work with the Lord to accomplish God’s purposes. But Martha wasn’t making any time to just hang out with Jesus. When all we do is work for God, our spiritual tanks empty out and we don’t make time to refill them. We have to make time to be refilled by God with His love so that we’re serving Him and His people from a place of love, not of necessity.
In his letter to the Ephesian church, John is pointing out that the Ephesians have become like Martha: busy all the time, but not taking the time to just sit with Jesus and get refreshed and refilled with love. They were out of balance.
Our relationships with Jesus need to have balance, both serving God through deeds and study and taking the time to just sit quietly, listening to Him and gazing at His beauty. Both are necessary.
I go back and forth, sometimes too much Mary, sometimes too much Martha, but God always lets me know when I’m out of whack.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” —Revelation 2:7
Girls, are you more of worker for God, a lover of God and people, or do you maintain a good balance between the two?
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