I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent. Revelation 2:3-6
Jesus gave John messages for seven churches in Revelation 2-3 when He appeared to John in a vision. This message was for the church in Ephesus. Paul helped to establish that church thirty or forty years before this, and he wrote the book of Ephesians as a letter to them. Jesus was telling them things that they had that were commendable, and also some things they needed to repent of.
Let’s take a look at the commendable things first. They were enduring trials patiently for the sake of Jesus. Secondly, they did not grow weary of standing firm, nor did they give up. This tells me that God sees us when we labor on, doing the right thing, and taking heat from others. We might think that no one else notices, or wonder if it is worth it. The resounding answer is that God sees and He will reward us for our endurance. He sees both individuals and churches.
Lately I’ve been struck with the idea of doing things that are a secret between God and myself. In Matthew 6:1-2 it says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
There are many awesome things that God has done in my life. If I never get to tell anyone about them, it’s okay. That can be our little secret. I know God sees me and He knows what I am doing and enduring for the sake of His name. My reward will come in the end from the One who sees me.
Now for the negative: They had lost the love and zeal that they once had for God. He didn’t say, “That’s okay, you did a lot of good things when you were younger.” No, He called them to repent. To repent means to admit that losing that intensity of devotion is sin, and then to return to the devotion that you had earlier on. It means a change of heart and a change of actions.
It could be tempting to live your Christian life in fits and starts. That means you have good stretches and you have bad ones. According to this, you need to repent of the bad ones and return to the first love that gave you the drive to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, serve others and be involved in things for the sake of His kingdom. Jesus told the Ephesians that if they did not repent, He would remove their lamp stand from its place. That means that there were consequences for their dwindling love for Jesus, or just going through the motions. It is the same for us today.
A friend was referring to someone else who was in a “spiritual funk.” She said, “Maybe he’s just tired of trying to save the world.” That could sound like a good excuse for allowing someone to continue in their funk, but according to this, it’s not okay. We can’t have good sounding excuses before God.
It’s time for a gut check: Have you abandoned your love and passion for Jesus? If so, repent and return. Make choices to go in the opposite direction and do it today!