“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity(love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” ICor. 13:1.
The voices clattered throughout the meeting.
“If we are going to have a bible school we need volunteers.”
“What about John? “ One voice offered. “The teens love him. He keeps them in stitches with all his jokes. They will be sure to come.”
The moderator shakes his head. “It’s true we need someone they will listen to but we also need someone they can follow as an example.”
All agreed. Silence fell like an uncomfortable garment on the group. A hand raised, as an older man stood.
“Yes,” acknowledged the moderator.
“If no one else will do it, I will.” His deep sigh filled with resignation circled through the group.
Another One walked among the group, but no one noticed, until He spoke the words He spoke 2000 years ago to the church at Ephesus:
“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and has not fainted.” Eph. 2:2,3. He paused and searched the smiling faces pleased with the witness they heard. Surely, now they could go on. But He wasn’t finished.
“Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Rev. 2:4.
The smiles turned to frowns as they listened politely with unhearing ears, wanting the Visitor to stop.
They were doing all the right things but, like the Ephesian Christians, had become, “as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” For their performance did not reflect the love of Christ.
Many messages have been preached and written about this first love. In fact , a book, Vision of His Glory, by Anne Graham Lotz, and a bible study made me take a fresh look at first love, reviving it, and guarding against leaving it. Could you, too, be in danger of leaving your first love? Are you doing all the right things but come away empty but busy?
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil: In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statues and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” Deut.30:15,16.
The Lord God has shown us the way of life and good, of growing and blessing. Many times I hear churches, especially the smaller country churches, the fear of it dying. I refused to hear it about the churches I am closest to until I read these verses. I love the conference I belong to and all the good and right it has stood for in the 186 years of its existence. There have been many good works among us. Even now, in our individual churches the word is preached, we persevere even as our numbers dwindle, we stand for right when society accepts evil as good and good as evil. We give of ourselves, time, and finances to further the word of God through missions, the camp, Youth Serving Christ. So, are we dying? I don’t think so but only One knows our heart. But If we are, why?
The Lord God promises here in Deuteronomy life, multiplication and blessing in the promised land, the land of our Christian walk. Could it be we’ve grown tired and in our weariness our love for the Lord is being left behind? Have we become preoccupied with everyday living? Have we forgotten the Lord walks among us? The following scriptures are a weaving together of Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Mark 12:30, and a thread of Galatians 5:23,24.
“…Love the Lord thy God…Jesus answered him… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,…”Love is a choice to act upon. The Lord commands us to be fully devoted to Him with a heart of passion, fervency, and diligence. Have you lost your passion? “…with all thy soul…in all his ways”. This love permeates your being. It is Christ living in us through His Holy Spirit causing us to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. His ways are, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” Do you bear the fruit of the Spirit? Is Christ your life?
We are to love the Lord our God, “…with all thy mind…and to keep his commandments…” “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect , will of God.” Romans 12:2. And His commandments are summed up in loving God and loving others. To love Him is to follow Him in obedience to all His ways. Is your mind set on just getting through the day or set on those things which are above? And finally:
We are to love the Lord our God, “…with all thy strength…” “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…and having done all stand.” Eph. 6:10,11, 13b. Withhold nothing from Him. Give Him the best of your strength, knowing in your weakness, He is your strength. Are you being deceived by your busyness for the Lord, substituting it for loving Him?
The Lord has laid out the path of life found in loving Him. So, what do we do when we are in danger of leaving or have left our first love? How is it to be revived? Until next time, know, there is hope.