All Christians long to live pleasing to Jesus Christ. That’s why if Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, many of us would pull out our checklist and grab a pencil.
We’d make our way down the list and ask the Lord:
- “Should I go on a mission trip?”
- “Do you want me to pray more?”
- “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
- “You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”
I have discovered that the weak points in our relationship with God never start with failing in the big things. For example, we would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology. It always comes when we ignore a more basic element.
The church in Ephesus did it. But we don’t have to.
Doing Great Things but Missing the Best Thing
For more than two years, the Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus and ministered to the church in that city. Later, he wrote the letter of Ephesians to them, and later still he penned two letters to their pastor, Timothy.
The Ephesian church received incredible instruction!
Thirty years later, the Holy Spirit inspired John to write yet another letter to the Ephesians within the book of Revelation. Jesus commended them highly. Just look at their checklist:
- They were stellar in both their deeds and their doctrine (Revelation 2:2).
- They labored even to the point of suffering for Christ’s name (Revelation 2:3).
- They put people to the test, preserving sound doctrine (Revelation 2:2).
What a church! But Jesus added, “I have this against you . . .” (Revelation 2:4). “You have left your first love,” Jesus told the Ephesians.
Their relationship with God had grown cold.
The Most Important Part of Your Relationship with God
Although we feverishly serve the Lord and remain firm in our doctrine, like the Ephesians, we can let our devotion slip–or at least, take a back seat to a busy life.
- Remember what Christ asked Peter three times after the resurrection? “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17).
- Keep in mind what Jesus told a frantic Martha about her sister, who sat at His feet? “Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42).
- Remember what the Lord ranked as the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
All these cause us to evaluate our relationship with God. Our serving God should never replace our devotion to Him (John 15:5). Instead, our devotion should fuel our serving. The Lord Jesus points to our first love for Him as the hub from which every other activity should flow.
Your First Love
Have we grown so much in knowledge and service that our love for Jesus has grown cold? Has the Great Commission replaced the great commandment (Matthew 22:36-38)?
Our deeds and our doctrine should form the wake behind our devotion to God. Our first love comes first.