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Priority of Love

A wife once asked her husband, “What do you think the Bible means when it says that Ezekiel’s wife was ‘the desire of his eyes’? Looking at her tenderly, he answered, “I think it means that every time he saw her, Ezekiel experienced the same thrill he felt when he first saw her on their wedding day!”

Jesus also used the language of love to speak of His relationship with the church of Ephesus. Only in this case, Jesus issued a reproof. Instead of holding on to their first love, the Ephesian church had begun to slip in its devotion (v. 4). They were a stable and hardworking church. They cared about the truth and maintained a high standard of doctrine (vv. 2–3). But something was missing.

When Jesus urged them to return to their first love, He wasn’t referring only to chronology. The word first also referred to priority—what they considered most important and best. When Israel was commanded to offer the first fruits, they were required to bring God the best of what they had, not merely the first things they harvested. The believers in Ephesus obeyed Christ, but they were capable of offering Him a better love.

This rebuke also suggests that there was a weakness in their community life. Just as their love for Christ had cooled, so perhaps had their love for one another. Is it possible that their devotion to sound doctrine had blunted the affection they once felt for one another?

The solution Jesus offered was not an either/or proposition. He did not ask them to set aside doctrine in favor of love. He praised them because they hated the practices of the Nicolaitans (v. 6). But in addition to uncompromising truth, they needed love.

Apply the Word

Memory is one strategy Jesus recommends for returning to our first love (v. 5). Do you remember when you were first devoted to Christ? Action is the other ingredient in His prescription. Jesus urges them to do the things they used to do. Is there anything you can do today to help you recall what your first love for Christ was like?

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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