Revelation 2:4 – Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
The Ephesians church was commended for their perseverance in hardship, rejection of evil, perseverance in service, and adherence to biblical doctrine (2:1-3). Their practices, no doubt, enabled them to remain a strong church in a major, pagan city for over 40 years (Acts 19:1-41). Despite the Ephesians’ commitment to orthodox belief and practices, they lacked deep devotion to Jesus Christ (2:4). Their high level of service and separation was not enough; the time had come for the Ephesians to renew their adoration of and devotion to Christ or risk losing the opportunity to be a witness to their region (2:5-6). God stoked the fires of their love by reminding them of his gracious provision of salvation (2:7). Love for God is not wrought through the observance of commands, but by responding with gratitude to God’s love.
Many Christians and churches may be known for their rigid adherence to doctrine and separation. Doctrinal purity is vital, and separation is helpful when applied biblically and lovingly. Nevertheless, we must adhere to biblical doctrines and practice separation because we love Christ, not simply because it is right. Obedience must flow from deep devotion to God. As Spurgeon once observed, “Holiness is not the way to Christ; Christ is the way to holiness.” Our love for God should be above that of all others, including our desire to be correct.
Christ deserves our hearts, not simply our heads or hands. We are exhorted to cultivate a deep love for God (see also Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; John 14:15, 21, 23; 21:15–16; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:8). Our love for God must be greater than that for our family (Matt 10:37, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Truly, the soaring height from which we have fallen is treacherous! Repent! Let us do “the first works” and return to the first love (2:5). Service and separation in place of the Savior are cheap substitutes. Check your motives. Flee from idols. Guard your heart. Ensure that all of your work for God flows from the grace of God’s love.
Daily Reading: Revelation 2:1-7
Bible Reading Challenge: 21 Days of Love