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; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My Name's sake and have not become weary.
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place--unless you repent.
'The Loveless Church' was Ephesus.
When we look at all the good things about this group of Christians, we could get a little puffed up in our accomplishments. Obviously, we have been working long and hard for God. We have not swerved in our dedication. We don't play favorites, and we call out the evil we see.
So, where's the problem? I believe the chief sin for us in this church may lie in our own self-righteousness. By adhering strictly to our Christian work and our Christian rules, we can easily forget our first love:
'And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets' (Matthew 22:37-40).
If you think you have loved properly and fervently, consider the poor, the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, the addicted, and the unattractive. Have you loved them more than your work?
'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me' (Matthew 25:40).
We must remember that 'He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy' (Titus 3:5).
Church work is one thing. Working long and hard is another thing. But love is the first thing. Even our good work must not take precedence over the beggar at our gates or the fallen in our streets.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Which Church Are You? series.