Week of Dec. 22
Our Greatest Call
The church in Ephesus had many good qualities, yet they were lacking in one significant area: their love for Jesus Christ. They actively served Him. They taught biblical Truth. They refused to give in to the permissive culture around them. They endured hardships in the name of Christ. They were busy, committed workers for the kingdom.
Jesus commends them for their hard labor and endurance: "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary" (Revelation 2:2, 3).
Yet, in their sincere efforts to serve Christ, they forgot to spend time loving and adoring Him. They overlooked their prayer time with Him. They no longer worshiped God wholeheartedly. They were so distracted and bogged down by the work of God, they neglected their relationship with Him. Jesus warns them: "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love" (Revelation 2:4).
Yes, Jesus wants our obedience. He wants to see us actively serving Him. He wants us to follow the Truth and shun false teachings. He wants us to remain dedicated to Him even in the face of persecution. However, upholding the Truth cannot replace our love for Him.
Throughout the Bible we read of God's love for us—and He wants us to return that love with the same fervor and intensity. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, "‘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" (Matthew 22:37, 38).
Believing the right things and doing the right things are vital components of our Christian faith—we must continue walking in the Truth. But loving God must be at the root of everything.
How often do you stop to adore Jesus? Do you wait for Sunday worship service because you're just too busy during the week? Do you neglect spending time reading His love letter to humanity because you're consumed with projects and commitments? Are you allowing the busyness of the work of God to supplant your relationship with Him?
If you have let your relationship with Christ fade, follow His words to the Ephesians: "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:5, 7).
If you have ceased to love Him like you did when you first accepted Him as Savior, recalling the time when you were overwhelmed by the love of Christ for you. Recall the time when you were joyous over the forgiveness you received for your sins. Recall how you wanted to spend all of your time adoring and worshiping and thanking Him.
Then identify whatever is robbing you of your ability to love Jesus with all your heart. Reverse your course and return to that time when loving God was your primary focus. Recapture the time when you loved being in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Recapture the time when your love for Jesus occupied your thoughts, your desires, and your decisions.
Pray for the Lord's help to remain in a state of love and adoration for Him. Pray that others will see your continuous love for Christ and they will turn their attention to Him.
"To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
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