February is the month of love and romance. Red and pink hearts are everywhere in honor of Valentine’s Day—the universal day for showing and sharing love. Of course, we don’t just love in the month of February—or one day a year—but it is the day we focus on finding ways to demonstrate our love.
Little children certainly don’t limit their display of love to just one day! Whenever my grandkids come to visit, they leave me love notes with their sweet heart drawings all over the house and on my white board. And at home they do the same for mommy and daddy. They seem to have an abundance of love and they don’t mind telling the world about it!
Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to your mind: I LOVE_________
Love is a word we often use loosely and it can take on many different meanings….
- I love pizza!
- I love pink!
- I love my husband!
- I love my kids!
- I love my new vacuum!
- I love Trader Joe’s!
I think you get the idea. Obviously we love our husbands and kids more than we love pizza. So how would you fill in the following blank?
My FIRST love is _____________.
You might have had trouble completing that sentence. If you’re married, how could you possibly differentiate between your husband and your children as your first love? If you have more than one child . . . how could you determine which one of them you love first? You can’t. But when you fill in that blank with…My FIRST love is Jesus . . . He gives you the ability to have limitless love for Him and for others:
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”—Matthew 22:37-40 The Message
You probably know people who would fill in the blank with …
- My FIRST love is myself.
- My FIRST love is my career.
- My FIRST love is fame and fortune.
- My FIRST love is my car or house or bank account…..
Every day we see on the news or in our neighborhoods, the tragic results of lives lived with the wrong priorities.
Analogy: Earthy Love and Love for Jesus
I once read a satirical advice column: Dear Dr. Lovelorn, Where do I go to find a lukewarm love for the rest of my life to grow old with?
Of course, none of us ever plan for our romantic love to turn lukewarm. Remember when you were first in love: when time, money, and energy were never a concern. You talked lovingly about each other nonstop, couldn’t stand to be apart, showered each other with affection, and wanted the whole world to know you were in love.
Then when you marry and children join your happy family, it becomes harder and harder to find the time, money, and energy to expend on each other. Yes, your love has matured, but you have to be careful that mature love doesn’t mean the passion and excitement has turned to lukewarm and routine. Even God wants our marriages to stay as on fire, as when we were first in love….
“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 18-18 NLT)
God also wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus. Have you been around a new believer lately? They have a radiance and glow…just like a new bride. New believers are on fire for the Lord and there’s a joy and exuberance about them that’s contagious and often leads others to want to know where this new found joy came from.
But as we spiritually mature, we may become like the church in Ephesus who Jesus spoke of in Revelations 2:4-5 (NIV): “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Removing the lampstand meant they would no longer be an effective church . . . effective Christian witness . . . effective role model to the next generation.
Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart, can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. It’s His love that fuels us to be better wives and mothers and grandmothers. . . . women. Jesus helps us do things for our families lovingly, not dutifully. There’s a difference between preparing a delicious meal because we love our family, versus throwing something together just to get them fed.
How Do We Return To Our First Love?
Just like we have to make an effort to rekindle the romantic fire in our marriages, we occasionally have to reignite the fire for Jesus in our hearts! Here’s an acrostic for L O V E that works for me, and I know it will work for you too:
Linger with Him!
“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.”—Psalm 119:97 NLT
Find ways to have a quiet time with the Lord every day. I know that’s not always easy if you have small children; but take a tip from Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist movement. Susanna had 19 pregnancies, and 10 of her children lived past the age of two. That in itself requires great faith, but even with 10 children running around, Susanna believed strongly in daily prayer and if she couldn’t find a private place in the house to pray, she put her apron over her head as a sign to the children to be extra quiet, mom was praying!
Find that private place in your home where you can “throw your apron over your head” and help your children learn to respect your time of prayer and reading your Bible. This will teach them more about the value of prayer than any Bible study. My daughter has three children 4, 7, 8 and she just read the Bible in a year on her phone by using YouVersion.
Obsess Over Him!
“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.”—Psalm 34:1-3 NLT
The dictionary describes obsession as:
- Immersed in
- Gripped by
- An Infatuation
- A Passion
AH…that we would all be deliriously, madly, and obsessively in love with Jesus!
“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.”—1 Chronicles 16:23-25
Synonyms for value:
We can tell what we value most by looking at our checkbooks and our calendar. Where do you spend most of your money and time? Ask yourself if it has Kingdom value.
I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.—Proverbs 8:30 NIV
When we L O V E Jesus Christ with total abandonment, our hearts begin to change and we’re able to reach out with His love to those around us and L O V E them as Jesus commanded:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”—John 13:34-35 NIV.
Share with us ways you’ve found to keep Jesus first in your life and how you L-inger with O-bsess over V-alue and E-njoy Him!
Have a Happy Jesus is “My First Love” Day!
PS: You might also find it helpful to do my Bible study Face-to-Face with Priscilla and Aquila: Balancing Life and Ministry