Has Our First Love Withered?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Jesus told the Christians at the church of Ephesus — a church founded on the godly teaching of the apostle Paul — that they had “lost their first love” (see Revelation 2:4).

When Jesus uses the words “first love” here, he is not speaking of the immature love we experience when we are first saved. Rather, he is talking about exclusive love. He is saying, “I once occupied first place in your heart but now you have allowed other things to take my place.”

It is significant to note that of all the sins Jesus points out in the seven New Testament churches in Asia, the first sin he names is the one that grieves him most: a loss of affection for him. 

The Christians at Ephesus had received exceptional teaching from Paul; in fact, as I read through Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, I am amazed at the gospel these people heard and lived. They walked closely with the Lord and Paul compliments them at length in Ephesians 1:1-5.

These Christians had been “made alive together with Christ … and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (see Ephesians 2:5-6). What a description of a blessed, holy people! It is evident that the Ephesians were not just a bunch of novices or lukewarm saints. Jesus was examining the hearts of a people who were well-grounded in the truth of the gospel. Yet he pointed out that something was deeply wrong: “Somehow in all your labors, you have allowed your first love to wither.” 

I believe this warning to the Ephesians is intended for every Christian living in these last days. Simply put, the Lord is telling us, “It is not enough for you to be a caring, giving, diligent servant who upholds moral standards. If in the process your affection for me does not increase, then you have lost your first love.”

I encourage you to examine your heart today and go back to your first love. Ask God for grace and strength to begin again to guard your affection for Christ.