Amos 1:1-15; Revelation 2:1-7; Psalms 128:1-4; Proverbs 8:1
NT: ““Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”” (Revelation 2:1-7 CSB)
Jesus, the Lord of the Church, had several commendations for the church in Ephesus. The worked, labored and endured. They did not tolerate evil and the people that perpetrated it. They tested people who claimed to be apostles and did not allow themselves to get led astray by false teachers and deceivers. They persevered through much hardships for the sake of Christ. However, Christ had one thing against them. They lost the love that they had when they first came to the Lord.
How easy it is to allow devotion to fade into mere discipline… for ministry to just become a job done out of obligation and habit instead of motivated by love. In all their work, vigilance, persevering and enduring, the Ephesian church lost the motivation of love, and as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, without love, we have nothing and we gain nothing. The truth that we speak as we confront evil becomes critical and harsh instead of loving and life-giving. Our work and perseverance becomes drudgery instead of worship born out of love. So serious is the loss of love as our primary motivation, that Christ said if they did not repent of their lovelessness, He would remove their lampstand – or their position of grace-infused favor and influence.
In recent days, I have seen the church in the United States become highly critical and loveless in their motivations and interactions. I believe the word that the Lord gave to the church in Ephesus, He would also give to the church in America: return to the love that you had at first – a pure, white-hot love for God, which results in an unconditional, sacrificial and servant-hearted love for people – or I will remove your place of favor and influence in the world. May we return to the love that we had at first.
Psalms: “How happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You will surely eat what your hands have worked for. You will be happy, and it will go well for you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children, like young olive trees around your table. In this very way the man who fears the Lord will be blessed.” (Psalms 128:1-4 CSB)
How happy and blessed is the one who both fears the Lord and walks in His ways. To fear the Lord is to love, honor and respect Him. To walk in His ways is to ultimately walk in love and truth, for God is love, God is truth, and everything He does and says is true and motivated for His love for us.
When we truly fear the Lord and walk in His ways, our home life will be peaceful, fruitful and satisfying. I wonder if one of the reasons why many Christian homes are no different, and in some ways worse, than worldly homes is that we do not truly fear the Lord and walk in His ways, which are motivated by love.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your love that You demonstrate to me every day. I know that I know love and am able to love because You first loved me and gave Your life for me. As I carry on the work of ministry, help me, as I keep my faith in You, to not lose my love for You and the love that You give me for people. May everything that I say and do be motivated by love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.