“To the church in Ephesus write: ‘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.
The church in Ephesus is no slouch as a church. Read Revelation 2 and see the commendations Jesus gives this church. Actually quite impressive! So what does it mean when Jesus tells them they have left their first love? This is a complaint the Lord must have against many well-meaning Christians; hard workers in the church’s mission, which cause them to think all is right in their Christian walk. So the whole concept of leaving your first love needs examination and evaluation in all of us. In using this phraseology in some recent email conversations, I have had Christian friends get angry with my using these words of Jesus to describe some other Christians. They said I had no right to do that. Such judgment is reserved for Jesus alone, and they took the words to mean that Christians so accused of this had actually left the faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus’ words are written to serious minded Christians who according to God’s Word cannot lose their salvation if they have once been regenerated. Jesus is about purifying His church. And this criticism he speaks is truly worth your and my attention.
Forsaking your first love means that God and your love for Him and His commandments have been supplanted by some other “love. He may be second or even third, but He is not first! The other “love in your actions receives higher approbation. You accede to that choice rather than giving the highest priority and obedience to the Lord. As a citizen a Christian may vote for a political figure whose announced policies and actions are in direct denial of God’s commandments; and continue to support that elected official even when he doubles down on those evil policies. The “first love that such Christians exercise is that something about that candidate is more important to them than God’s commandments. They may say, “Oh, I believe in God’s commandments personally, but I still must vote for someone for a reason I hold dear even when he egregiously promotes those policies and makes them the law of the land; so that the general public is led to disobey God’s commandments as well; but still that is not my personal belief. This is truly disingenuous and the criticism of such Christians holds: they have left their first love, while not the faith. Still grievous damage is done to others and to the testimony of God’s church by their choices.
We leave our first love when our time, verbal and personal action support, resources, and talents are not devoted to the Lord and His Word as first priority. The Holy Spirit sends us many tests in creating situations in which we must make decisions. God knows our heart and the thinking process we put into arriving at our choices. Make no doubt about it, God is not mocked, we cannot pull the wool over his eyes. He knows what goes into our decisions and individual choices. It is here our first love is tested and proved for what it truly is. And it is in these decisions and choices that we are most liable to leave our first love for another. Each must evaluate in light of God’s Holy Word where he or she stands in their decision making. Believe me when I say that every Christian is given situations to prove or disprove where their first love lies.
There is always a solution for every child of God. Jesus tells us in this letter to the Ephesian church: repent, that is acknowledge your poor choice and turn from it. Do again what you should have done before; do the righteous thing whatever the personal cost. This is returning to our first and highest love and letting the chips fall where they may; chips of popularity, exclusion by others, sacrifices, whatever it takes to show our first love is our Savior, and we are willing to bear that cost. Love is a costly thing in any relationship. It requires sacrifice and priorities. It is not without meaning that the term “labor of love fits in love relationships. We may well have many loves, but as a disciple of Christ one’s intent and striving is to rise above them all. Who is genuinely your first love, not just in words but in the decisions and actions of your life?
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly devotional