Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 2:4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
In Revelation chapters two and three we see letters to seven churches in Asia, those being Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The apostle John is writing to these seven churches regarding their current situation. Our focus verse refers to the Church of Ephesus. He starts by describing their positive attributes. “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake and have not grown weary.” Revelation 2:2-3. He knows the works they do and how they toil long and hard. The idea here is excessive labor where they work incredibly hard to do the work they are called to do. They also do not tolerate evil people who attempt to cause trouble within the church and when anyone claims to be an apostle, they test them to see if they are truly apostles.
He speaks highly of them in regards to their works, However, there is one thing that he has an issue with which is laid out in our focus verse, “‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4. Now, this statement can be looked at in several ways, and in my studies I see two that stand out. One is their love for the Savior/God and the other is their love for each other. I believe he is speaking of both. They had lessoned the love they had at first for God and His people.. It was less glowing and ardent then when they started. They were not as passionate and enthusiastic as they had been before and thus was seen in how they conducted themselves.
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important, he said this. “Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. To Him, love is the most important attribute to show. And this love is to be exhibited to all, God and our fellow man. But to the Ephesians, it was the work they did that was most important.
I have met many who work very hard in service to the church and they endure much pain and suffering in the process. However, they do not love God as they used to and neither their fellow man. Too many times I have seen very knowledgeable Christians who are very learned in the scriptures and Christian concepts; however this is their major focus. They spend more time on learning and showing everybody what they know, and not enough time in the concepts of love. And this is what John was showing the Ephesians.
Let everyone of us examine ourselves deeply and see if we have fallen into this error. There is nothing wrong with doing good works. We are called not to give credence to evil deeds. However, if we do these things while our love decreases for God and His people, we need to look at what has gone wrong and make some adjustments in our lives. If we truly love God and our neighbor as ourselves, then good deeds will follow. However, if we do things because we have to and not because we get to, then love begins to lessen. Focus on love first, and all the other things will happen naturally.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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