Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
We are all familiar with our Lord's rebuke of the Ephesians’ church, "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love" (Rev. 2:4). This indictment was made to a church that was very sound in its theology. Paul had written previously to this same church his marvelous letter to the Ephesians in which he taught so clearly the doctrine of depravity (2:1-3; 4:17-19), the doctrine of election (Eph. 1:4-6), and many other glorious truths. These truths produced many good and godly results. At the time John wrote Revelation, the Ephesians church was still strong in many ways. Christ commends the church for their:
- doctrinal purity, and
- Tireless service (vv. 2-3).
However, somewhere along the way, their love for Christ began to decline. Though many of their deeds were good and sound, they no longer did "the deeds you did at first" (v. 5) which reflected the intensity and fervor of their earlier love.
How did this sad condition develop, and how, by God's grace, can we restore our first love? As for the first question, it seems that a measure of worldliness crept its way into their lives and although it did not corrupt them theologically, it did corrupt them spiritually. They were still very active and vigilant in the truths of the gospel, but their love of Him who is "the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" began to suffer. It appears that their faith grew satisfied with the mere orthodoxy of life and doctrine, while the affections of their heart toward Christ gradually grew cold.
We are warned of several dangers here.
is when our hearts become more attached to doctrine than to Christ Himself. This happens when we enjoy reading about good theology but we never turn this into heart-felt worship of our living Lord. It is when believers neglect their prayer and personal times with the Lord in the Word that they can ever so gradually slip into contentment with orthodoxy without worship. We must guard our hearts against a mere academic faith. Most Christians need a double dose of good theology in their heads, but once planted let us seek grace from God that it might sprout and bear godly fruit for our Master in heaven.
is the fact that the loss of our first love for Christ happens gradually over time. It is like the proverbial boiling of the frog which when the temperature rises slowly the frog does not realize his danger until it is too late. Thus, we should regularly engage in the godly discipline of self-examination and honestly answer the question, "Have I lost my first love?" "Is my love for Christ slipping?" "Has my life changed so that I am not doing the deeds I did at first?" It is only when we become conscious of our failure to maintain our first love that we will seek the help of God to restore it.
So, how do we restore our first love once we've lost it? Though there could be many books written on this, I want to share one thought that I find myself coming back to again and again. It is found in Luke 7:36-50 when Christ is dining with Simon the Pharisee. During the meal, an immoral woman came and shocked them all by her incredible display of love toward the Lord. She broke her treasured alabaster vial of perfume and poured it on his feet while her tears, her hair, and her kisses tenderly and affectionately cleaned them. The self-righteous Pharisee couldn't believe his puffed-up eyes, "How could he let himself even be touched by this sinner," he thought. Then Jesus turned to Simon and taught this profound principle: he, who is forgiven little, loves little; but he who is forgiven much, loves much. In this case, the woman who had been overwhelmed with her sin was now overwhelmed by Christ's love and forgiveness and this led to her great display of love to Christ.
Brethren, one of the keys to restoring our first love is to revisit the depth of our sin. Too often as believers we forget the hell-hole which once held us tight, we forget the vileness of our sin, and when we forget our sin we will forget our Savior. Those who frequently remember the greatness of their sin, will have less trouble keeping their first love burning bright. For love to Christ is directly tied to our forgiveness of sin. He who is forgiven much will love much.
So, how is our first love? If you are like me, you realize how easily it is to be lost. May our gracious Lord remind us again of our great sin, that our great Savior might be precious in our hearts.
Your servant in Christ, HARUN KAMAU