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The "First Love" Thing

Updated: May 8, 2020

One thing we cannot do without is life-giving blood flowing freely from our head to our toes. We would be in trouble without red blood cells coursing through our veins. That’s why it’s critical for us to be aware of the possibility of developing “clogged” arteries, which would impede the stream of this vital fluid. Because of the importance of blood moving through our heart many of us make nutritional and lifestyle choices that help us stay healthy.

Just as we need to be diligent with our physical hearts, we need to also be attentive to our spiritual hearts. Our spiritual hearts are the wellspring of life from which the love of God flows (Prov. 4:23). On the Lighting Our Path-Blog, I have been highlighting things that we can learn and apply from the book of Revelation. Today, we will look at Jesus putting His finger on the weak spot of the Ephesian church saying, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). The Ephesians were diligent in their doctrine, sniffing out false apostles, but their love for God was not running freely in their veins. Like plaque growing in a person’s arteries, the love of other things had clogged the flow of the Ephesians first love for Christ.

Jesus tells them to “remember from where you have fallen” (Rev. 2:5a). It was a correction and an invitation for them to think back to earlier times in their relationship with the Lord when their love for Him had surged strongly. This first love was evidenced by their first “deeds” (2:5a). We are not told what those deeds were, however, Hebrews talks about believers who in “the former days, when, after being enlightened” willingly suffered and linked arms with others in their suffering. We learn that the Galatian church began their life with God in reliance on the Spirit (later drifting into trying to finish in the strength of their flesh). Also, when Paul had written to the Ephesian church at an earlier time, he commended them for their faith and “love for all the saints” (Eph. 1:15).

Whatever the Ephesian’s first deeds were Christ called them to remember their first love and to do those works again. Keeping the love of Christ flowing freely in our hearts certainly applies to us today as believers. We don’t want the passion of other things to obstruct our live-giving stream of devotion for the Lord. What were the deeds that you did at first when you received Christ as Savior? In what ways was your love for Him your utmost priority? What things did you do or not do because of your ardent affection for Christ? And of course, the most important question of all…of those first deeds that sprang from your first love, which of them are you challenged by Christ’s words to turn back and do again (Rev. 2:5)?

As I pondered these questions, I realized that I have matured in Christ in knowledge and understanding from the time when I was first saved. But, as in the case of the Ephesians, I don’t want my love for the Lord to become sluggish over time. When I was first saved as a single person, I leaned on the Lord more than after I was married and relied on my spouse. Also, at that time Christian fellowship was a vital part of my life on a daily basis. Now, I’m in a different stage of my life, but I can remember and revive the fervent first love that pumped freely through my heart. As with the Ephesians, our love for the Lord will be seen in our deeds—including that of loving His people. We cannot get away from the truth that to love God fervently is to be devoted to our brothers and sisters in the Lord (1 John 2:9-11).

Christ’s prescription for you and me is to remember and do what we did when our passion for Him first sprang forth. Doing a reset is not always easy, yet it’s about getting back to the simplicity of One, heart-strong love. In response to Christ’s correction, we can let our fidelity express itself in fresh ways, done with a first love intensity. This might include spending more time with the Lord than on social media or television. It might include more transparent and devoted relationships with others in the His body. It might include making Him famous and not ourselves. It might include being willing to suffer for His sake. Ultimately, it’s not a list of dos and don’ts; it’s a devotion to the Lord that springs from our hearts and is seen in our lives.

So, together, let’s take on Christ’s admonition in Revelation, remembering and revitalizing our flow of first love for the Lord and His people!


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