But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Rev. 2:4)
Jesus’s letter to the church at Ephesus contains words of affirmation as well as this pointed rebuke. The believers there were encouraged to hear from their Lord and Savior that He was pleased with their faithful stand for doctrinal truth and steadfast endurance in their time of trial. However; they also felt a tinge of pain from this correction. Have you, too, abandoned your first love?
Open your Bible and read Revelation 2:1-7. As you read, ask yourself, “In what ways am I like the believers who first received this letter?”
As you think about how personal Jesus’s letter is, you may be tempted to think, “It sure would be nice if Jesus could send me a letter giving me specific guidance. It sure would be helpful if He would write a letter to our church. It would really be simpler to know what He affirms and what we need to correct.” But He has!
Jesus Wrote You a Letter Too
Just thirty years before John received the revelation of Jesus, which we know of as the Book of Revelation, the Spirit, whom Jesus promised would come, sent another letter to the same church in the city of Ephesus. Since both letters are part of God’s inspired Word we know and believe that they were also intended for us. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Through God’s Word, we can know what Jesus sees—and wants to see—in our lives and our churches.
Practice Living Faith
Now open your Bible and read Ephesians 4:1-32. Right on the heels of three chapters of God-saturated theology, the apostle begins the practical application section of his letter with the word “Therefore” (4:1). By doing so, he indicates that everything he says in chapters 4-6 is the logical application of knowing God through His gracious and glorious salvation provided for us in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and applied to us by His Spirit.
Ask the Lord to open your heart in order to see the growth that He desires to bring about this year by His grace and His Spirit. Make the following four commitments:
- Commit to live in a manner worthy of the calling of God (vv. 1-6).
- Commit to properly exercise your “grace gift(s)” (vv. 7-10).
- Commit to being equipped by your church leaders to be a fruitful and mature member, so that the body is built up in love (vv. 11-16).
- Commit to the never-ending need to discipline yourself to lay aside the old self and its ways, and put on the new self which is the likeness of God (vv. 17-32).
Reflect and Pray
No matter how long you’ve been a Christian the temptation exists to leave (not lose) your first love—your primary affection for Jesus. Many times it is not blatant evil that causes us to leave our first love, but the gradual accumulation of good things at the expense of the best. If we are not careful, our hearts will unknowingly grow cold and our spiritual appetites will wain.
- Do you see any signs of abandoning your love for Christ? In what ways has the Spirit convicted you?
- In what areas do you need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness?
- What specific ways do you need to exercise spiritual discipline in Bible reading, prayer, church involvement, and witnessing to others?
- Pray about these matters, confessing your weaknesses and asking for the Lord’s help as you renew your commitment to live out your faith.
We all need to heed our Savior’s call to remember from where we have fallen, repent, and return to heartfelt affection for the Lord.