The Lost Love

Revelation 2:1-3 – “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.’”

As a congregation, the church in Ephesus had maintained a high standard of doctrinal purity. They toiled under immense pressures from within and without and kept themselves clean, at least in the sense that they remained free from falsehoods. They did not endure evil men, which seems to be less common with each passing generation of Christians today. Finally, they tested those who claimed to be apostles. There is nothing wrong with this, for the Bereans are described as “noble-minded” because they searched the scriptures daily, never taking the apostle’s words as truth untested.

Do we follow the same pattern of caution in our own congregation? We must always remember that Jesus sees all, and is aware of all the activities that go on in His world. He “walks among the seven golden lampstands” like a guard, observing all that we do, so every time we tolerate evil He is aware of it. Would Jesus say the same thing to us that He does to Ephesus? Would He commend us for our stand for the Truth, and our stalwart refusal to participate in the evil deeds of unscrupulous men?

Revelation 2:4-5 – “‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.’”

In spite of everything that the Christians in Ephesus had accomplished, they did not do it in a spirit of love. Their zeal was gone, replaced by an emptiness that seems to captivate so many churches. While they were a congregation that had remained true to the doctrine of Christ, they lacked the spirit of Christ. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

What does it mean to leave our first love? Perhaps it is most commonly manifested in the lives of longtime Christians – those who have been saved for many years and have reached a lull in their enthusiasm, a gentle, uneventful crisis of faith. As for the Christians in Ephesus, they are a case-in-point of what happens to believers who allow their love to become nothing but empty rule-keeping. They had forgotten what it meant to be strong in the faith and to love the Lord with all their hearts! Do we ever find this happening to us?