Summary: Our love for Christ must always come before our work for Christ. Don’t be deluded by our own importance or our great service to God.
It is good to know that the Lord walks among the churches.
• The last verse of chapter 1 tells us the lamp-stands represent the churches.
• He is present with us today. No matter how imperfect we are, He is here.
• He has a word for every church, each according to their needs.
We will look at them one at a time over the next 7 weeks.
The first comment was to the church in Ephesus.
The thrust of the message is this – our love for Christ (worship of Christ) must always come before our work for Christ.
• Why is this so? Because we can work without a love for Christ – like the Pharisees.
• You can be working for self-glory, for your own pride, to feed your own ego.
• But when you have a love for Him, you’d naturally want to serve.
The Ephesians were doing something that many of us would not consider a problem.
• They were working hard for God – their hard work, perseverance, and their intolerance for wicked men – all deserved mention.
• But that became a problem for the church.
Being too engrossed your service for God can become a problem.
• When serving God becomes all that defines our relationship with Him.
• Performance becomes the sole yardstick. We measure our spirituality by how hard we serve, how much we put in.
• We become the elder son in the house (the one in the story of the prodigal son).
• “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” (Luke 15:29)
The church in Ephesus fell into this trap – this performance trap.
• They were a popular church; a lot to boast about.
• Paul had founded the church here, served it as pastor for almost three years (probably the longest ministry among the cities Paul visited). He wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians while he was there. He left Timothy there as the Bishop.
• John spent the last years of his life there as well, writing his Gospel and three epistles there.
• And tradition tells us that Mary, the mother of Jesus is buried there.
When John writes Revelation, not only had the believers been under excellent leadership, they were the second generation of believers.
• They were seasoned believers and knew what church is all about.
• They really know how to DO CHURCH. They have become ‘professional’ in what they are doing.
They were doing many things right.
• In fact, we have the impression they were doing MANY THINGS.
• They were hard working, they were passionate, and they were doctrinally sound.
• Soon they place their work for Christ before their worship of Christ.
• When faith is institutionalised, like the Pharisees in Jesus’ times, you end up praising God with your lips while your heart is far from Him!
The Ephesian believers had not only become professional and perfunctory (mechanical), they had become deluded by the importance of service.
• They placed service above their love for Jesus Christ.
• Don’t we sometimes feel that way? Our service for God becomes the focus of our relationship with God, as if He is only concerned about what we DO for Him and not who we ARE to Him?
• It is amazing to know that the Father loves the younger son who squandered all his wealth, AND the older son who has been faithfully working in the field.
It takes Jesus to tell them that. They need to look again at the Christ whom they loved, not to focus on the work that they can do for Him.
• Don’t be deluded by our own importance. It is a privilege to serve. It is by His grace we are able to. It must always be motivated by love.
• Don’t serve to show off. Don’t compare with others. Don’t be proud if you’re doing a better job than others. Don’t serve to please your peers. Don’t serve to impress. These are the common mistakes we make.
Does the Lord know all that you are doing for Him?
• Yes! He says here: “I know your deeds.” And tell them what exactly they did.
• Do you think the Lord knows the work you did behind the scenes – in the kitchen, for the fellowship, for the choir, for the Sunday School – where no one thanks you and encourages you because no one even notices what you do?
“I know your deeds” was Jesus’ encouragement. He notices, and affirms it.
• Jesus then highlights something that was not pleasing to Him – “You have forsaken your first love.”
• In order words, they no longer love Him like they used to. The honeymoon period is over.