Can you describe your marriage? Is it red hot, lukewarm, or just plain cold to the touch? Many divorces occur simply because spouses are too busy to pay attention to their love temperatures. The same can be said about our love for the Lord. When was the last time you felt excited to spend time with God? Can you recall a recent time when God did something amazing for you? If you struggle to answer, then you might need to take your temperature and begin rekindling your first love, because scripture tells us Jesus is paying attention.
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love…I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
(Revelation 2:4 and 3:15-16).
First Love is Not Just About Jesus
That’s sounds so wrong. Isn’t Jesus supposed to be our first love? Yes he is, but not just him and here’s why.
These verses were written to Christians at Ephesus and Laodicea, two of the main churches operating at the time Revelation was written. Let’s go back about 30 years to see what the church at Ephesus first looked like. The Apostle Paul commended them for their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all God’s people (Ephesians 1:15). Fast-forward to Revelation and we see things already going downhill, so Jesus has to correct them.
Remember the height from which you have fallen!
Repent and do the things you did at first,”
The first century believers had forsaken their first love. If it was just about Jesus, he should have finished by saying repent and…love me again, but he didn’t. He told them to repent and do the things they did at the first. What things?
A few verses later, Jesus told the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:19, “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are doing more than you did at first.” So from all these scriptures, we see Jesus talking about some specific things believers should continue doing so their love didn’t become cold. Ephesus and Laodicea needed to get back to doing what they did in the beginning. It wasn’t just about their love for Jesus; there was more to it than that.
The Greek word for love used in Revelation 2:4 and 19 is “ag-ah-pay” meaning love, affection, charity, benevolence, good will, esteem; and the plural form is love-feasts. It’s such a great word because it encompasses everything the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation: To love God and love others with affection, charity, benevolence, and good will. It includes gathering with other believers at what was anciently referred to as love-feasts, where the first Christians studied God’s Word, shared meals, and made sure everyone’s basic needs were being met.
Jesus’ Words Confirm It
So why isn’t this all about Jesus? Because Jesus never intended it to be. Look at Matthew 22:37-38:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
When Jesus reduced the 10 commandments to two, he didn’t say we just needed to love God; he also said to love others. So many verses pop into my head about loving one another. The world will know we’re Jesus’ disciples if we love one another. People will see our good deeds and glorify our Heavenly Father. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about God’s kingdom being like a King who separates his sheep from the goats. He gave the sheep the inheritance because they fed him when He was hungry; gave him something to drink, and cared for him when he was sick. They clothed him, invited in strangers, and visited the prisoners. The sheep asked when did they do such things and the King answered whatever they did for the least of their brothers, they did for him.
How do we lose our first love? By forsaking the second commandment.
Missionary Reduced To Church Member
Many years ago, I worked as a foreign missionary. Church attendance was secondary to spending time with people, listening to their stories, and meeting needs however I could. I visited gypsy camps of Western Ukraine and helped provide food, water, and clothing, thereby opening the door to share Jesus with them. In the city, I shared God over meals and through Bible studies in apartments and coffee houses and met physical needs as God led and provided.
In 2001, God called me to continue my work back home in Texas, but one year melded into many. Like the church in Ephesus, my mission work was soon reduced to being a church member. I still loved God, but I forsook my missional calling and simply became a church goer and tither. It was easier to spend a couple of hours on Sunday morning rather than cooking a meal and inviting people to my home. It cost me less to let the church secretary hand out my tithe rather than going into the world and meeting the needs myself. Just write a check. I fell into the trap of the enemy and forsook my first love.
Have You Lost Your First Love?
Can you relate? Then begin intentionally living out both of Jesus’ commands. #1: To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and #2: To love others as yourself. If I were in need, how would I want to be treated? I’d want someone to help me in a more relational way. I know there are people who just want help, but how is receiving it from a church somewhere making way for the gospel to be shared or a compassionate hug exchanged? Whether people know they need God or not, we know it and are commanded to share with them. You can’t do that through church membership or writing checks.
I’m not dissing churches helping people. There are catastrophic times like hurricanes and the like where churches collect money and supplies to send. That’s awesome, but I’m talking about everyday life where people go through hard times and they need to know someone cares enough to spend time with them.
Let First Love Open Your Eyes
As we rekindle our first love with Jesus, he opens our eyes to the poor, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoners. He motivates us to help because of the help he gave us when we were down and out. For the world to glorify God, His help must flow through loving and relational hands; otherwise, it’s just loveless, dead works. A hot first love will ignite our hearts and enable us to not only passionately love Jesus, but also to continue doing the second commandment and love others as ourselves.
Will you join me in asking God to rekindle your first love?
I’d love to hear what happens! Also, please feel free to share this article with your friends and family. Together we can make a difference!