Jesus, Our First Love

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Have you looked around at our culture lately? It’s filled with increased crime, perversion, lies, and selfish ambition. We could blame many things, but the root of it all is that people do not allow love to determine how they act. It’s all about gratifying self.

Jesus said this would happen in the last days before He returned a second time. “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

People are often deceived into believing that what they’re doing is acceptable, and then act selfishly out of that belief. Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, many in our culture have adjusted God’s Word and created their own doctrine to justify what we want to believe. Though they claim to be of the Kingdom of God, Jesus says that their hearts are far from Him.

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9)

Jesus didn’t speak lightly of this in the book of Revelation. He said even the Christians of Ephesus, known for their zealous labor for the Kingdom of God, had “left their first love.” According to Jesus, they needed to repent and return their hearts to Him.

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:1-5)

It’s possible to be zealous for a cause but have no love for the Creator of the cause. It’s possible to worship, yet our hearts be far from the One we’re worshiping. It’s possible to get so caught up in our service and conviction for right that we slowly leave what matters most to God—our love for Jesus.

How Do We Fall from Our First Love?

One day, Jesus told the Parable of the Sower to the disciples (see Matthew 13). The seed—His Word—fell on various locations and types of soil, or hearts. The response to God’s Word was different for each person. For those who did not understand it, the devil came and snatched it away. Those who received the Word with joy, but whose heart were hard, were shaken when life’s trials came. Those who were distracted with the problems and concerns of life could not bear fruit at all because all the distractions.

The greatest reason we fall from our first love is because of our poor response to God’s Word. When we don’t take time to understand it, soften our hearts to receive it, and put up a defense against the cares of life, our desire for Him will become weak. Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), so when we allow the Word to get choked out of our lives, it is the same as allowing Jesus to be choked out. This leads to our love growing cold.

We should test our lives consistently.  Is there anything that gives us greater joy than Jesus? Has the zeal for the work of the Kingdom become a greater priority than His Person? Have life’s challenges squeezed out the love we have for Him? If so, we need to repent and rekindle that love.

Falling from Our First Love

Like marriage, rekindling our love takes time and effort, something we may not always feel like doing. The misunderstanding of our culture is that love is a feeling. However, love is not a feeling or emotion. It’s a choice. Even Jesus had to overcome His feelings in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t at all feel like going to the cross . . . but He did it anyway because He truly loved us and saw what wonderful things would come of it (Matthew 26:36-46, Hebrews 12:2).

In detail, rekindling our love for Jesus will look different for all of us, but will require the following:

  1. Surrendering the cares of life to Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
  2. Making Him our life’s highest priority. (Matthew 6:33)
  3. Reminding ourselves of who He is and what He’s done for us. (Psalm 103)
  4. Considering His value and treating Him as valuable. (Psalm 19:10)
  5. Spending time with Him in prayer, Bible study, and worship. (Luke 10:38-42; John 4:23)

Putting these steps into action will bring joy to Jesus’ heart. He wants nothing more than to be in close relationship with us. And when our pursuit is genuine, He will reward us far more than any earthly dream or relationship, both physical and spiritual. That reward is priceless.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

When we believe in Him and seek to please Him, we must never forget the reason why we act. If we don’t keep the Person of Jesus as our focus and reason for doing what we do, we could easily fall from our first love once again. It shouldn’t be something we think about occasionally, but something we need to remind ourselves of every day. He desires our hearts—every part—not out of obligation but out of genuine love because He first loved us.

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)

We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

 

 

 

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