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Summary: Christ's message to the Church in Ephesus speaks to churches today that are beginning to lose their ardour. His message is a clarion call to stir up the flames, to stoke the fire.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not and found them to be false. 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 lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” [1]

“I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first.” [2] For some, sustaining love grows difficult with passing years. I’ve been married more than fifty years; I believe I am qualified to say a few things concerning love. I believe I have earned the right to hold an opinion concerning love, an opinion sustained by perseverance over time. I have observed that the hot passion of youth, that first love that caused such funny feelings whenever you saw one another, will die down. Though love still burns, the fire now burns steadily rather than flaring up. The young man, or young woman, learns to moderate the damper and to regulate the fuel supplied to the fire—something that was impossible at the first.

With time, love begins to be spread around. It’s not that love is diluted, but the heart expands accommodating other righteous loves. There are children, and they are loved. It is not the same kind of love that first burned in your life together, but it is even stronger, even more intense, howbeit, not identical. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because a mother doesn’t pamper her son that she doesn’t love him. Don’t try to touch the boy, or you’ll learn something about how a mother loves her children. Don’t think that a father doesn’t love his daughter, just because he doesn’t say much. Don’t make the mistake of making her cry or treating her disrespectfully. You will learn very quickly just how intense a father’s love can be.

There are dear friends who come into your life—fellow church members and some especially close friends with whom you trust your life. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” [JOHN 15:13]. I’ve heard men who shared combat, speak of the love they have for their brother warriors. And brother believers who have shared hardship know something about love that grows stronger through shared difficulties.

The love a husband and a wife share with one another grows more intense, deeper, richer as the years pass. The couple will have some rough spots, but they’ll remember the good times. They’ll remember the shared hardships and how they overcame as God supplied their needs. They’ll recall with deep humility those special times when they shared a laugh, shared a tear, shared life, and each will know what it is to love and to be loved.

How tragic, then, should someone be confronted by that first love, confronted by that one who was supposedly loved most deeply, only to hear the rebuke, “You have abandoned the love you had a first.” How awful to think that someone quit loving, that the object of affection realised that the love was gone. How awful to discover that there is no longer a fire burning in the furnace. The Risen Saviour sent messages to seven churches located in the Roman Province of Asia. He sent these messages through letters penned by His servant, John. The letters were drafted while John was exiled to the Aegean Island of Patmos. And the first letter was sent to the church located in Ephesus. That letter accused the church of having left her first love. In effect, Jesus said to this congregation, “You are a furnace with no fire.” Tragic as that censure may be, more immediately tragic is the case should Jesus make such a statement concerning us.

I KNOW YOUR WORKS — “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary” [REVELATION 2:2-3].

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