Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:4 (NKJV)
Who can forget their first love? The excitement we felt when that special person entered the room. The anticipation of seeing them and the connection that was made as eyes met. The experience of first love, with all its innocence and purity, was never to be repeated—for that is the way of “first things.” Remember the first time you professed your love for Jesus Christ? With that experience came the same excitement and anticipation as our first earthly love. Unlike most first things that eventually lose their luster, it is important for believers to make every effort to nurture and cultivate our personal relationship with our First Love, Jesus Christ.
The church at Ephesus had “labored and borne” in the work of the Lord; this included exposure of false prophets and heretical teaching (vv. 2-3). This was a critical part of the early church’s responsibility to insure a clear and true presentation of the gospel (Ep. 4:1-2). In addition, they were commended for enduring hardships and not growing weary in serving God. In general this church had continued in its faithful service to God for more than 40 years. While all these “efforts” were important in the development of the early church (as it is now), there was something that was noticeably absent. They had forgotten their first love.
Jesus lays a charge of carelessness in cultivating their relationship with the Him. In the literal translation of today’s text, the order of the words in Greek emphatically denote the strong rebuke directed to the church. “Your first love you have left!” Christ used the word agapēn in speaking of the deep love that God has for His people. This rebuke contrasted with the commendation Paul had given 35 years earlier to the Ephesians for their expressions of faith in Christ and for their love (agapēn) for the saints (Ep. 1:15-16). This second-generation of believers, had retained purity of doctrine but were lacking in deep devotion to Christ.
If Christ were to come back today, what would He say about your love for Him? Have you left that place of deep devotion you had when you first became His beloved (E. 1:6)? Believers, like the Ephesian church, are sometimes guilty of taking their First Love for granted. They are quick to accept His gifts and blessings, but slow to pursue intimate fellowship with Him. And what about the church, Christ’s bride (Rev. 19:7-9)? The church needs to heed the same warning given to the Ephesian church. Orthodoxy and service is not enough. Christ wants hearts as well as our hands and heads. Have you left your First Love? Next week we will explore ways that lead us back to His arms.
SELAH: During your quiet time, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if you have left your first love for Jesus. He will not condemn you (Romans 8:1) but gently redirect you to His arms.