Do you remember?
“There is no love like the first.” (Nicholas Sparks)
The anticipation. The excitement. The eagerness. The desire to please. Consuming thoughts. Irrepressible smile. Immense feelings. Overwhelming emotion.
If so, you probably realize you don’t still feel the same way you did when that love was fresh and new. Hopefully, though, the love you experience now is deeper and better, less based on emotion and more on relationship.
While this description certainly describes the time I first fell in love years ago with the man who is now my husband, that’s not the love relationship I’m talking about here.
Do you remember the first time you truly realized how much God loves you?
Remember when you discovered he wasn’t a distant God but a personal savior? Do you remember when you first realized that he loved you enough to come to this earth as God in flesh? What about the knowledge that your sins are wiped away as if they never happened?
With that first love came a fervor, an unbridled enthusiasm. Along with it came an understanding of the seriousness of sin and the thrill of being forgiven.
Have You Forsaken Your First Love?
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4)
When I think of what it means and feels like to fall in and out of love, I better understand the point God wanted to make to the Ephesians and why this message is so timeless and so very relevant for us still today both as individuals and as the corporate church.
Forsaking your first love means you neglect it. You find yourself going through the motions of life, doing the busyness of life much like the Ephesians did. Revelation 2:2-3 tells us they worked hard, persevered, resisted sin, sought truth, and endured hardships all without becoming weary. Yet, they were still found guilty of leaving the love they had when they became Christians and formed the church.
In other words, they lost the fervor (i.e., earnest feeling, ardor, passion, and zeal) they once had for God. They became apathetic and were simply “doing church” without truly loving God or other Christians. Been there? I have.
Remember. Repent. Return.
When my husband and I grow distant from each other, even if just a little, we find that returning to what initially helped our love grow — spending quality time together, listening intently to each other, intentionally doing acts of kindness for one another, preferring one another, etc. — helps us return to and even go deeper in our love for one another.
Remembering these varying degrees of love I’ve felt over the years for my spouse helps me better understand how to return to the fervor I once had for Christ before apathy and boredom crept into my life.
“Therefore remember 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.” (Revelation 2:5)
The word used for “first” in this context means foremost, as in time, place, and order, and the word used for “deeds” means toil or effort. In other words, get your priorities back in order and do the most important things again, things that seemed so natural at first.
For the Christian, this means putting your relationship with God first, making it your top priority. This begins when we realize what we’ve stopped doing that we need to go back to doing. It also means ridding our lives of that which draws us away from him. It involves asking for forgiveness for the neglect and the wandering. It means returning to a dependence on him to continually rekindle that first love within our hearts and lives. It also means making a habit of doing the things that continually deepen our connection with him.