Bill Bright

Near the beginning of the Book of Revelation, we have a remarkable passage in which our Lord Jesus speaks directly to seven prominent churches of the first century.  He greets each of them with a “pat on the back,” a word of commendation for work well done.  Then He gets down to business; He tells them what must be improved.


The first of these churches is located in the great city of Ephesus.  As we read these words, it sounds as if the church had more than its share of “Marthas”—tireless servants who had busied their hands but lost their hearts.


I know all the things you do.  I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance…You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.  But I have this complaint against you.  You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Look how far you have fallen from your first love!  Turn back to me again and work as you did at first.  If you don’t, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.  –Revelation 2:2-5


We are going to be looking closely at these words, because they are vitally important for everyone who knows and loves God.  The Lord is saying, “You have served Me well.  You have suffered for Me patiently.  You have endured over the long run.  Good job!  These are wonderful accomplishments.  But I must tell you that something troubles Me deeply.  I’m referring to your love for Me and for one another.”


We are startled to hear these words.  But He continues, “Your love is not what it once was.  You have left it behind! Don’t you recall how things used to be?  Don’t you remember the time when your hearts were ablaze with love for Me—and how that love overflowed into your relationships with each other?  Oh, how you’ve fallen from those lofty heights!  But there is good news:  you can set things right again—back to how they were!”


Come home—that is the message.  The original language, by the way, does not say that those believers have lost their first love; it says they have left it or forsaken it as an act of their will.  I hope you can see what a difference that makes.  We do not “lose” our love for a spouse, for a friend, or for Jesus Christ.  We walk away from it.  If we say we’ve lost something, it almost sounds as if it is just an unfortunate occurrence that is nobody’s fault—something you can losein the same way you would misplace your car keys.  But we are responsible to take hold of the love God has poured out upon us.  It is up to us to cling to it and never let it go.  The Ephesians, however, had not done that.  They had left their first love behind, and now God is inviting them—and us—to come home.


In the fifth verse, Jesus reveals the path that leads homeward to the place from which we should never have left.  We must take these steps:


  • Remember (Rev. 2:5a)
  • Repent (Rev. 2:5b)
  • Resume (Rev. 2:5c)


The first of these, remembrance, is the work of the mind.  If our hearts have grown cold, we must rely upon our minds.  We may stop feeling, but we never stop thinking.  So the mind is the best place to stir up the embers that will warm our hearts once again.


Remembering gives us the shock of realization—things have changed!  We have loosened our hold on the greatest thing life has to offer.  In remembering, we feel deep remorse that we have deliberately left home, our first love.  The reflection of the mind will lead to the sorrow of the heart.  When we have fully come to terms with the truth of it, only then will we be moved to repent.  We internally change our focus from ourselves toward God.  Finally, we begin to do those things of first importance again.


Mind, Heart, Soul, and Strength


In its simplest terms, the path back to our first love is this:


What We Do

What We Use

What Jesus Calls It


We think (Remember)


“Look how far…”


We feel. (Remorse)


“…you have fallen from your first love!”

We change. (Repent)


“Turn back to me again.”

We work. (Resume)


“And work as you did at first.”



God’s plan, as we would expect, is a perfect one.  It uses our mind, heart, soul, and strength—everything about us—to bring us back into His presence.  He wants all of us, so that we may experience all of Him.  It is no coincidence that Jesus said the greatest commandment is this:  “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark12:30, emphasis added).


Jesus also taught us that the second commandment followed naturally from the first one: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 32).  Notice that Jesus said to the Ephesians, “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first” (Revelation 2:4, emphasis added).  Love for people is the overflow that comes from a love for God.  There is absolutely no way you can love the Lord with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength, and not have that love overflow into your other relationships—beginning with your nearest neighbors, your spouse and children, your parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins,  It works in both directions, too; when you lose the joy of God, you will begin to lose the joy of people.


Where are you today in that regard?  Are you in a state of loving unity with the people important to you?  If you’re struggling with relationships in your family, in your workplace, or in your established friendships, the first place you should check is how you’re getting along with God.


By Bill Bright, First Love


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