But I have [this] against you, that you have left your first love.
Revelation is one of those books that gives some people cold sweats. Prophecy troubles some folks and Revelation is replete with it. But the book opens with John writing that he is on the island of Patmos and he had a vision of Christ. Chapter one closed with Jesus telling John to write what he sees and what was at the time and what will be.
Jesus then proceeds to dictate seven letters. Each letter is addressed to the angel of a particular church. The address includes a description of Jesus with a focus on some particular attribute. This morning’s verse comes from the letter addressed to the angel of the church in Ephesus (2:1). And the church in Ephesus had some great things happening. They were a persevering church and a working church and a church that tested everyone who said they spoke on behalf of God. Then Jesus gets to this morning’s verse.
Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 13:3, that if I give all my possessions to feed [the poor], and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Works are awesome. James wrote that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). But the issue is that works, no matter how awesome, without love are of no profit for the believer. To be sure, there are people who benefit, but the labor that we are doing, ostensibly for God, is not leaving the Earthly realm. We do not bless the heart of God when we work without love for Him.
Today, if I examine myself and find that I have good works present in my life, but not a love for God and for His people, then this letter could be addressed to me. Jesus tells anyone who finds themselves working for God without loving Him: Repent and go back to the place where you worked from love. Working from the place of love makes work easy. Genesis records that Jacob worked seven years in order to be able to marry Rachel and the whole time seemed like only a few days because of his love for her (Genesis 29:20). When I work for God out of love for God, then the work I do does not feel cumbersome.
Father, please examine me today and see what works are present in my life. Whatever there are, please root out the motivations for them. If they are motivated by love, then please encourage those things in me. If they are motivated by anything else, please convict me so that I might turn back to the place where the work was done out of love for You and not from any other motivation. Thank You that You want me to work from love and not from any other motive.