Summary: Jesus said, "This I have against you. You have forsaken your first love."
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. Edmund Burke said that very seldom does a man take one giant step from a life of virtue & goodness into a life of vice & corruption. Usually, he begins his journey into evil by taking little steps into the shaded areas, areas tinted & colored just a bit, almost unnoticed by those around him.
Until one day, hardly aware that he has made the journey, he finds himself firmly entangled in a life of vice & corruption.
A. We see that same kind of journey pictured again & again in scripture.
ILL. In the book of Judges we read about Samson. Almost everybody knows his story. Samson was a man of God. From birth to manhood, his life was dedicated to God. He started the morning with God. He spent the day with God. He ended his day with God.
But then gradually, Samson started flirting with evil. And little by little, evil came into his life. And then, in Judges 16:20 we read one of the most startling verses in all the Bible. It says that the Lord had departed from Samson, & Samson didn’t realize it.
Isn’t that sad? Samson had become so deeply enmeshed in sin that God couldn’t stand to stay around any more. So God left him. And Samson, once a great man of God, was so insensitive to the presence of God, that when God left, Samson didn’t even realize it.
ILL. That was true of King Saul, too. The sun comes up on his life & we see a cloudless sky, a beautiful beginning for Saul. He is a man whom God loves, & who loves God.
But gradually, he turns his back on God, & the storm clouds begin to collect. Finally, he can’t see the sun anymore because God has left him. And the Bible says that Saul ended up slinking off to the witch of Endor, seeking help from the powers of evil because those were the forces that were now controlling his life.
APPL. It isn’t the giant step from virtue into corruption that we need to fear. It’s the little steps that ultimately lead us away from God.
B. It must have happened that way in the church in Ephesus. In Rev. 2:1-5, as Jesus looked at that church, He saw many positive things. Listen as I read the first 3 verses:
"These are the words of Him who holds the 7 stars in his right hand & walks among the 7 golden lampstands: `I know your deeds, your hard work & your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, & have found them false. You have persevered & have endured hardships for my name, & have not grown weary.’"
Isn’t that a great description of a church? We’d be proud to have Jesus say something like that about us, wouldn’t we? But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on in vs. 4, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love."
I don’t imagine that their forsaking their first love happened in one giant step. It wasn’t that just one day they decided not to love God any more. It was a gradual thing.
For a while their love for God was so great & so infectious that people were drawn into their fellowship. Great sermons were preached, & wonderful things were happening. And they were known far & wide for their steadfast faithfulness, even in the face of persecution.
But then, people who used to pray a lot gradually stopped praying. People who may have been giving a lot gradually stopped giving. People who used to witness to the lost gradually stopped witnessing. Until finally, when Jesus looks at this church, He says, "This I have against you. You have forsaken your first love."
PROP. Now, I have 3 questions that I want us to consider this morning.
I. WHAT IS FIRST LOVE?
A. The first question is, "What is first love?"
ILL. A while back I listened to someone reminiscing about his first love. He recalled tree-lined streets, & long summer evenings when he & his girl friend walked down the street holding hands & dreaming of their future together.
They envisioned themselves living in a little cottage built for two in their blue heaven somewhere. When practical questions arose concerning money, they answered it in what seemed to them a most logical way. They said, "We’ll live on love."
SUM. That’s the way first love is, isn’t it? It loves the object of its affection without reservation. It is being totally head over heels in love.
B. Now what is "first love" in God’s eyes? It is the love that first brought you to God. It is the love that you experienced when you saw the cross as it really was. It was when you realized that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for your sin & you were overwhelmed with His amazing love.