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We love because He first loved us

No, I am not talking about your “romantic” life (though some of us who are married, especially us men, would profit from considering this as well!). I am talking first and foremost, about your love for the Lord, for this is where it all begins, doesn’t it? Writing to the church at Ephesus, the Lord Jesus utters this terrible indictment,

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (Rev 2:4-5).

Those words thunderously remind us that at the heart of “waywardness” is the elevating of other “idols” (even good things as Ephesus!) above the Lord, who requires all of our love, devotion, and allegiance. All sin can be traced back to a “deficient” (either in a given moment or prolonged) love for God. But when our love for the Lord grows cold, it is due to an even deeper problem, for the only way that we can grow in our love for God is by understanding His great love for us first. “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…” (Gal 4:9). Before we ever, in ourselves, came to know God, He Himself initiated knowing us! You!? A rebel sinner, who wanted nothing to do with Him! We know that this intimate knowledge, and loving devotion, was supremely shown to us through His Son, Jesus.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

The more that we understand God’s love for us, the more we, in turn, out of the overflow of that understanding and sense of gratitude, will love Him.

Further, those who claim to love God, must necessarily (even if imperfectly!) love others.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7).

Our love for God finds expression in our love for others. And the way that we express love is by putting others before ourselves and serving them by meeting their needs, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Love expressed in service for others flows from an understanding of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus.

So I ask you: how is your love life? When was the last time you set aside your time and agenda to care for someone else? When was the last time you denied yourself an earthly pleasure, even “right,” and instead met a tangible need that someone else had? When was the last time that you loved someone “not” deserving of your love, the way that God has loved you, “even while yet a sinner” and “in rebellion” against Him? If our love grows cold and hardened toward others, then perhaps it is time to “return” to our first love, the Lord Jesus Christ, that it may lead us to an abounding love for Him and for His people.