Nurturing your first love for Jesus.
Rev. 2:1-7, Christ’s letter to the church at Ephesus takes us to the core of this topic. Jesus lists out 9 positive qualities of the Ephesian believers and commends them for them. Reviewing that list, I would say this was a very healthy congregation.
However, Jesus adds, “Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.” Is that so important, a little loss of passion? To God it is VERY important: Jesus continues, “Repent!” Forsaking (leaving) our first love for Jesus is a sin! In fact it is so serious that it cancels out all the other good we can do. Often we forsake our first love for Jesus because our work, or our ministry, or our family, or sports become the object of our first love.
Jesus goes on to say, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” This means the church will go out of existence—and that is what happened to the church in Ephesus. Forsaking our first love makes us useless for God’s Kingdom.
For God, our first love for Christ is a critical factor: most everything else flows from it. It is the spring of good motives, of humility, of obedience, of proper good works, of growth and spiritual power.
So, what can you do to nurture your first love for Jesus? It has to be an intentional pursuit, for it is not something that happens by itself. Just as un-nurtured love in a marriage withers, so does our love for Jesus when we neglect Him. There are many things we can do to nurture it; I will mention the three most effective ones in my life.
First is personal worship: praising God for who He is without focusing on how His qualities benefit me. The Lord Jesus is endless in His beauty, greatness, wisdom, power and love. If we take a Psalm each day and exalt Him for the qualities we see there, it will stoke the fire of our first love for Him. For instance, take Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked.” I would use this for worship in this way, “Praise be to you, Lord God, that in you there is no wickedness, you can never be tempted to walk in wicked counsel, for you cannot sin, you hate evil and all you do is good. You are the God worthy of worship in your holiness!”
Second is what I call “basking in the love of Jesus:” repeating to myself the wonder of being God’s child. By nature all I deserve is condemnation, suffering, pain, failure, death, hell and eternal separation from God (Rom. 7:18, Eph 2:1-3). In spite of this, and against all logic, He chose me, called me, cleansed me, claimed me as his son, and commissioned me to special service (Eph 1:3-10, Col. 3:12). Now I stand before Him dearly loved, deeply cared for, doted on and delighted in! This is true for every true follower of Christ. If that doesn’t stir your soul, nothing will. I willfully let myself feel both sides of that truth, the despair of what I deserve and the wonder of the Creator of the universe being excited to have me as His son! That causes my love for Him to bloom! I find it has also brought a deep, profound emotional stability to my life.
Third is praising Him in and for all things–especially for things that naturally I would be upset about. To do so is a statement of faith: my God is good, He is wise, He has allowed this happening in wisdom, love and grace. (Psalm 50:23, 1 Thes. 5:18) In it I can give Him glory. Through it I can demonstrate grace to those around me. From it I can grow in faith and obedience. Such praise lifts my eyes and thoughts from natural seeing and thinking to the Truth: supernatural, spiritual and supreme.
Try these and sense the burgeoning, beautiful growth of your first love for Jesus. Truly, Knowing Jesus is Enough for Joy, Period—if we choose to live that truth. Be intentional. Be committed. Be wise. Live like a child of the King, the prince or princess you are!
Outcome of nurturing first love for Christ.
Here is a reliable story, gotten directly from the source, not an internet rumor. This past week a friend’s acquaintance in South Africa took out his garbage one afternoon and was attacked by two masked men. He was forced into his house, robbed and then stabbed to death. His wife was also stabbed and left unconscious. When her pastor visited her in the hospital, he wanted to reach out and comfort her but she showed how God had already covered her with His grace, telling the pastor, “This is a case to believe Romans 8:28. Our God will work this out for good!” Now there is a woman who had nurtured her first love for Jesus! How about us?