Week of March 4
By Skip Heitzig
I grew up going to church every Sunday. I didn’t look forward to it, because for me it was like going to the dentist. The pews were hard, we had to kneel all the time, and they used a lot of strange words. Church attendance was called the “Sunday obligation.” That summed it up for me. It was something you had to do, whether you wanted to or not. The only good thing was I could go on Saturday and get it over with.
The church at Ephesus was cold like that. They did all the right things. They worked hard, and they persevered under persecution. Yet, in Revelation 2 Jesus told them, “You’ve left your first love.” Their simple, pure devotion for Jesus Christ had eroded over time.
But how is it possible to serve God, to suffer for God, and not do it out of love? Actually, it happens all the time. You can serve the Lord out of guilt. You can do it to be noticed. You can do it because God has given you a gift and you feel fulfilled when you exercise it. The last is better than the first two, but Jesus says the highest motivation is love for Him. “First love” is the love for God that characterizes a brand-new Christian. It’s fervent, fresh, bold and personal. Life is boiled down to one thing: Jesus Christ.
Look at Luke 10. Martha was busy serving Jesus, while her sister Mary was just sitting at His feet, listening and loving Him. The qualities of these two women should be in all people, the hard worker and the loving worshiper. But busy action must never eclipse loving adoration. Martha got annoyed at her sister, not because she had too much work but because she let the work distract her from the One she was serving.
Remember, what we do with Jesus Christ is more important than what we do for Jesus Christ. Because what happened to the church at Ephesus can happen to us. What happened to Martha can happen to us. We can get so involved in activities that we become cold, or we get distracted from our love for Him.
When I counsel people who are experiencing problems I’ll often ask, “How’s your time with the Lord? Are you doing your devotions?” Many tell me that they’re not consistent, and some even say they’ve stopped reading their Bibles. And they wonder why they have problems?
Here’s my point: Action without adoration leads to aggravation. Church, or Bible study, or prayer, or whatever, shouldn’t be seen as an obligation. We do them because we love Jesus Christ. Put your focus on loving Him, and everything else will fall into place.
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