Thursday, March 07, 2013
Today’s Topic: The Importance of Love
Today’s Text: Revelation 2:4 (ESV) But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
There is a name I love to hear; I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear; the sweetest name on earth.
It tells me of a Savior’s love, Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea.
Oh, how I love Jesus; Oh, how I love Jesus; Oh, how I love Jesus; Because He first loved me.
That song popped into my head the moment I plopped into my office chair. It will be my constant companion the whole day. I wondered what the Lord was trying to say to me, and where His thoughts would take me. I invite you to come along with me on this journey.
As I thought about the words Oh, how I love Jesus, I was immediately convicted by the Holy Spirit. Do you really love Jesus all that much? Is Jesus the one true love of your life?
No. At first I attached a qualifying statement to that answer –At least not as much as I should or could – but quickly realized I was only attempting to validate the love I do have. We tend to do that when we answer questions: we defend ourselves rather than humble ourselves.
So the answer is simply NO! I do not love Jesus adequately as defined by Jesus in Matthew 22:37 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” As a result, I also do not love others adequately either, for how can love flow from me when the Source of love is being ignored? I have promoted things of the world to a higher priority than my love for Jesus. Projects have become more important than prayer. Relaxation and recreation have replaced relationship. Personal success often becomes my agenda rather than the mission of Jesus Christ. Oh how I love myself.
At this point I needed to know how it is possible to be in the work of the Lord and yet not deeply in love with Jesus. So I read the context of Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Here’s what I discovered:
- The people of this church were doing the work of God – vs. 2
- They were enduring persecution and hardship and remaining faithful – vs. 2-3
- They were taking a public stand against evil in their day – vs. 2
- They were carefully holding to the truth of the Gospel – vs. 2
- They hated the false teaching of Nicolas (Acts 6) that promoted sensual and materialistic living – vs. 6
Yet in contrast to all of that Jesus said, But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. He actually says they have fallen from a previous position of honor and needed to repent (vs. 5). And then Jesus says that all of the other work they were doing would become meaningless unless they repented, for He would come and remove their lampstand from them.
OUCH! Not loving Jesus has dire consequences. The day is coming, and in fact may already be here for some, when those who have lost their first love of the Savior who loved them first and saved them from their sin will become ineffective in the work they are trying to do for the Lord. It all hinges on love.
Love for self and love for the world are opposed to love for Jesus, and serve as barriers to the expression of His power in our lives.
Every time the lyrics or melody to that song flash across my mind today, may my heart be humbled to realize that it is at that very moment that the Lord Jesus wants me to love Him more than whatever else I am doing. Let the journey continue.