“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
The book of revelation is broken down into three sections, the things that were, the things that are, and the things that will be. In the “things that are” the Apostle John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, describes seven churches with details of Jesus’ commendations and commandments. These lessons apply to us today, are to be studied, understood and applied.
In the letter to the first church, the Church of Ephesus, Jesus commends the church for identifying and eradicating false teachers and for patiently enduring painful trials, often to the death.
This church was visibly functioning perfectly. They were laboring hard, knew the scriptures and were applying them. They were enduring unbelievable hardships. However, Jesus identified a key issue. The church was not putting their love for Him first. They had forgotten what was most important.
What does it mean to love Him first? How can we cultivate a loving relationship with Him? Put in the hard work. Jesus becomes our first stop in the morning. We spend our time in the scriptures learning about Him, praying to Him. We worship and honor Him in everything we do.
It has been analogized our relationship with Him could be personified as a train. Our hard work is represented by the engine and our feelings for Jesus as the caboose. The idea is that our hard work learning about Him, reaching out to Him, meeting with Him, spending time in prayer with Him, worshipping Him will yield the fruit of seeing the caboose coming around the corner. Our love will be delivered.
Though the analogy isn’t perfect, it does warrant application. We have to invest in relationships for them to bear fruit. As documented in Mathew 22:37 Jesus instructed this is our chief priority. When asked by the Pharisees what is most important, He echoed Deuteronomy 6:5 – “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
This turning from chiefly loving God to ourselves started in the garden and hasn’t stopped since. God has continued to echo the importance of this stance, we are to love Him above all else, putting our relationship with Him above everything else in our lives. Verse 5 details the dire warning if we don’t, He will remove our lampstand. Our status as members of His church will be removed.