“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:..
“‘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.'” Revelation 2:1-5
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
What was it about the Ephesian church that caused them to abandon love? They’d done so many things right. Perhaps their hard toil and long endurance had become an end in themselves. Maybe pride had seeped into their ability to test and discern and make judgment, and begun to inflate a sense of superiority. Possibly their energetic persistence in pressing on had distorted their sense of whose strength was fueling the work. Long bearing up for Jesus’s sake can swell into a martyr–ridden self absorption to the loss of love and His name’s sake altogether.
We must beware growing smug about our mettle and stamina. We must be vigilant about keeping the main thing the main thing, and aligning our industry and ministry with a clean heart every day. We must run quickly from idolatry and wayward affection for man’s praise. We must stay in the word to orient our passions, and remind us of the great God we live to serve. Are we so careful? (Romans 12:9)
Our Lord is able to search mind and heart, and He will give to each as our works and the motives behind them deserve. He detects the waning of our love and the pride-stain on our heart’s devices. In mercy, He convicts and corrects when we drift. Chastening becomes the humble Christ–follower who follows its goad to genuine repentance. Are we attuned to His inner convictions, and willing to heed His warnings? If not, would we be willing to be made willing to change our ways? (Revelation 2:23)
The best way to maintain all-consuming love as our daily driver is to meditate on Christ’s love for us. Contemplate how for our sake, He became poor, and humbled Himself to death that we might live in and for Him. Practice this regularly, with selfless praise, and be ignited by love divine. (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 John 4:10)
Father, extricate any bit of love for self that has crowded out love for You and others. Purify my capacity to love and make it like Yours: measureless, powerful, and free. Establish it as my sole compulsion, for Your name’s sake. (2 Corinthians 5:13-15)