I don’t have to tell you that Saturday is Valentine’s Day. You may have special plans with your sweetheart to celebrate this day devoted to “love.” Hubby and I are going to the only “tablecloth” restaurant in our little town, so we knew we had to have reservations early. I’ve mailed Valentine cards to grandkids, and have the perfect card ready to sign for my sweet husband.
Romantic love is God’s plan. He wanted us to be madly in love with our spouse and never forget the passion, and maybe even infatuation, that drew us together.
“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” —Proverbs 5:18
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. —Ephesians 5:25
These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands. —Titus 2:4
It might seem strange to us that young women would need training in how to love their husbands, as it says in Titus 2:4. We think that comes naturally, and it usually does . . . at first. But what happens to love after years of being together and going through life’s challenges? Many of us say the circumstances of life draw us closer to each other, but other couples struggle to love each other as they did at first.
Loving Jesus As You Did at First
Just like earthly love can mellow and grow lukewarm, so can our love for Christ. That’s exactly what happened to the church at Laodicea, much to the Lord’s chagrin:
But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
Some of you might be shaking your head in denial right now: “No, that could never happen to me!” Well think back to what you were like when you first became a Christian. Remember your zeal and passion to tell everyone about this newfound relationship with Christ. Was everyone excited to hear about it, or did you start to get push back from people and decide that maybe you would just keep your relationship with Christ private and to yourself?
Then life got busy and your Bible started collecting dust. Oh, you still dutifully go to church on Sunday, joined a small group, tithe, and have a bumper sticker from your church on your car. But do people know that you are deliriously, head-over-heals, madly in love with Jesus? Does your spouse even know that?
Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? —1 Corinthians 7:16
Could it be that you still love Jesus, but maybe not like you did at first. Jesus has His place in your life, but if you’re honest, you’d have to say Jesus doesn’t hold 1st priority in your activities, finances, energy, time…maybe even in your heart. This happened to the church at Ephesus and it can happen so easily to us today too.
The Church at Ephesus Forgot Their First Love
In Acts 2:42-47, we see the devotion of the first believers at the church in Ephesus:
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Paul commended the next generation of believers in Ephesus for the depth of their love for Christ:
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.—Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)
But in Revelation 2:2-4, this same church became a dutiful church lacking in love:
I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!
How did the Church at Ephesus go from devotion to brotherly love for Christ, to the 2nd generation, rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, to the 3rd generation forgetting their first love?
It seems that the second generation got so caught up with how to do church, that they forgot why we have church—because we LOVE Jesus! They didn’t pass down the love of Christ to their children and grandchildren.
Do our children and grandchildren know why we’re taking them to church and Sunday school? Do they know that we are Christians because we love Jesus more than anything in the world? Do we role model our love for Christ to the next generation?
Remember Your First Love
The letter to the Church at Ephesus has the answers to reclaiming Jesus as our first love:
- Remember: “Look how far you have fallen!” (v. 5)
- Repent: “Turn back to me” (v. 5)
- Refocus: “and do the works you did at first.” (v. 5)
Or else . . .
- Removal: “If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” (v. 7)
Removing the lampstand meant they would no longer be an effective church . . . or effective Christian witness. . . or effective role model to the next generation. And my friends, if Jesus slips from first place in our life, we too will stop being effective Christians.
God wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus Christ. 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. There’s a contagious joy and exuberance about them. Others want to know the source of their happiness.
Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart—and keep Him there—can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. His love fuels us to be better spouses, parents, friends . . . Christians.
If you would like more specifics on how to reclaim Jesus as your First love, I wrote about this in my blog last year, Who’s Your First Love?
Have a Happy Jesus is “My First Love” Day!
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the New Living Translation