When Jesus addressed the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), He addressed a problem we in the West face today as well. Jesus said, “You are hard workers. You keep pressing on despite the obstacles. You are ministering to others, you’re making sure no wolves in sheep’s clothing infiltrate the church, and you even stand strong under persecution for your faith.”
But then Jesus drops a hard word on them: “Yet I have this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”
The Ephesians were fighting the good fight. Yet this intense work and ministry detracted from what is most important: Love for God. The New Living Translation says verse four this way: You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first.
- Busyness can kill love.
- Fighting evil can kill love.
- Standing for truth can kill love.
- Ministering to others can kill love.
Ministering to others is not love. It can only come from the overflow of love. But if the love is not kept full, there’s nothing there to overflow, and we’re only “doing our duty.”
So Jesus challenges the Ephesians (and us) with these two steps: Remember and Repent.
The verb tense for remember is the present tense. That means it’s something we need to do now. I cannot tell my wife “I love you” nine times on Monday morning and expect that I’m covered for the next 10 days. In the same way, we cannot tell Jesus we love Him on Sunday morning, and then go off to do our own thing for the rest of the week. That choice will not allow us to overflow with love; in fact, it will be just the opposite: we’ll be running on empty, just doing our duty.
We must keep our love up-to-date. Remember often how much God loves you, and express your love to Him. And if you find something in your life that is more of a focus that Christ, repent. Turn from that and turn back to your first love.