The Love Christ Seeks
“I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
—Revelation 2:4, emphasis added
“For over 40 years, since its founding,” writes John MacArthur, “this church had remained faithful to the Word and the Lord. Through difficulty and persecution, the members had endured, always driven by the right motive, i.e., for Christ’s name and reputation. But the Ephesian’s passion and fervor for Christ had become cold, mechanical orthodoxy. Their doctrinal and moral purity, their undiminished zeal for the truth, and their disciplined service were no substitute for the love for Christ they had forsaken.”1
Jesus therefore gave them an admonition in Revelation 2:4: “You have left (quit or forsaken) your first love.” In other words, it is not what you are doing; it is why you are doing it. You are not serving in this church for the right reasons, and that is not pleasing to Me. I am pleased that you are saved and living a pure life, but you are not pleasing to Me when you are motivated by yourself and not by pure love for Me.”
When life is only orthodox, routine, smoothly running, and the inner springs of life are running dry, that is not the spiritual life that God intends for you. The abundant life that Jesus offers is one filled with His love that conquers, captures, and crowns every part of your life. It is 1 Corinthians 13 love that can only be described, because it is so impossible to define. John spoke much of love and Christ (twenty-nine times in the synoptic gospels; forty-five times in John; fifty-one times in the epistles). Christ is present with you right now, and waiting for you!
What is First Love?
· First love prompts us to patience—like the love experienced by Jacob. Laboring and waiting seven years for his bride, Rachel, “seemed only a few days to him” (Genesis 29:20). Yet for some in today’s church, praying for just seven minutes seems like an eternity.
· First love prompts us to worship—like David’s love that overflowed from the shepherd boy’s heart into worshipful psalms. He never complained about having to sit out in the weather watching the sheep while his seven older brothers got to stay home. Instead, he loved his Savior so much that he saw Him in the mighty power of the wind and thunder, the brooks, the animals, and the stars. David worshiped the Lord wherever he was (Psalm 19).
· First love prompts us to give our treasures—like Mary of Bethany who broke the alabaster box of ointment and poured it out for Christ (Matthew 26:7). She could have kept her treasure, but she lavished it on the Lord! A martyred saint, Jim Elliot, once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
· First love prompts us to thanksgiving—like the woman who wept at Christ’s feet, washed them with her tears, and wiped them with her hair (Luke 7:37). First love loves much, for much has been forgiven.
· First love prompts us to sit at Jesus’ feet and just love Him— like Mary of Bethany when she worshiped at Christ’s feet while Martha was “busy about the house” serving. Martha failed to perceive that her most important priority was to adore Christ, not serve Him. (See Luke 10:38-41.)
· First love prompts us to love His coming—like Paul who longed for Christ’s return! Yet he faithfully did what Christ wanted him to accomplish (Philippians 1:21-26).
· First love prompts us to love His Word—like the Berean Christians demonstrated by their insatiable desire to read and know God’s Word (Acts 17:11). They also understood the importance of having a passion to be with God’s people when they met.
How is your spiritual temperature today? Has your passion for Christ cooled, and are you now laboring without love? Has your spiritual life become so mechanical that the inner springs have run dry? Do you have a love that conquers, captures, and crowns every part of your life? Is your love like that in 1 Corinthians 13 that can only be described because it is so impossible to define? Giving Christ the love and attention He desires is not only possible, but it is also essential if you are to avoid grieving His Holy Spirit!
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