May 16, 2010
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
It is good for us to recall the ardent love that we had when our great desire for God was newly discovered. As time goes by, the demands and difficulties of earthly existence keep us busy and wear us out. If we don't frequently tend the fire of our love for God, it will die down. It is not impossible for the flame to flicker and go out altogether. Our “first love” for God is a fire that must be kept burning and if necessary be rekindled.
Jesus Christ sent this message to the church in Ephesus: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” These were hardworking Christians who had made considerable sacrifices to maintain the integrity of the gospel. Yet so much time had passed since their conversion, they seemed not to remember the way they had loved the Lord at first. But the Lord remembered. And His words of warning to them recall the words that God spoke through Jeremiah to the people of Jerusalem: “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown” (Jeremiah 2:2). It is not a good thing to let slip from our memory something that God still remembers about us!
To those in Ephesus who had left their first love, Christ said, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5). The words “remember” and “repent” should tell us that the love which the Lord desires from us is more than an illusive emotion. Ultimately, it is a love that springs from the will. And if we don't love Him as we used to, there are specific things we can do to rectify that problem. One of these would be to take some time off, go to a restful place, and remember – really remember – how we used to love God. This memory will be a refreshing, nourishing, energizing reflection on what once was and on what can still be.
“O God, the God of all goodness and of all grace, who art worthy of a greater love than we can either give or understand: Fill our hearts, we beseech you, with such love toward you that nothing may seem too hard for us to do or to suffer in obedience to your will; and grant that thus loving you, we may become daily more like you, and finally obtain the crown of life which thou hast promised to those that love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Brooke Foss Westcott).