Jesus reveals to us in Revelation that sometimes we can be doing all the right things, but are lacking in love.
We may dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s”. We may even be heavily involved in charitable work, but when we do these things out of duty or self-righteousness, we have lost our first love and all our good deeds are in vain.
To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “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; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’
Sometimes, we who consider ourselves “prophecy watchers”, can become so caught up in identifying the ills and sins of the world that we forget to LOVE those who are enslaved to these evil times. This can happen to anyone, though, not just the watchers.
We attend services every time the door is open. We make sure our children are in Sunday school and youth group. We are mindful of the entertainment we allow into our homes and the people we call friends. We guard our hearts and minds against the wiles of the enemy. We talk to our neighbors about the Lord. We “like” and “share” Christian memes on FB and else where. We study the Word to show ourselves approved. We weed out the false teachers and speak out against sin.
Good. We need to do all these things. However, if we are doing it because we have somehow set ourselves on auto pilot and/or allow ourselves to develop a self-righteous attitude we often lose sight of our main purpose and all our works are basically meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,but have not love, it profits me nothing.
One might ask how it is possible to do these things and not have love? I mean, don’t we do these things because we love?
Not always. Let’s finish this section in 1 Corinthians to see what God says love is:
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
What is the one thing that is needed to express the love that is described above?
We lose our love when we forget about the grace God extended towards us; when we forget how we need grace for our own salvation.
This is what Jesus was addressing in His letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2. We hate sin. Good. We are diligent in driving it out. Good. But we cannot forget why.
We know God is love. His love is manifested in Jesus Christ, through the grace extended by Him.
1 John 4
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Himbecause He first loved us.
When we forget this, we lose sight of our first love.
Without love, there is no grace and without grace, there is no love.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (emphasis mine)
So let us be mindful of our own fallen, sinful, wretched condition when considering others; dealing with one another with an attitude of grace. We are instructed to encourage, instruct and edify one another in love. We are also to do all things for the glory of God. God is not glorified if we do not act out of love and keep in mind the grace He extends towards us.
***The above was written before I came across these relevant quotes by Charles Spurgeon. The following quotes were provided by Paul the Slave, check out his blog…it is truly inspired.
Christ always preached doctrine that was hopeful. While he denounced self-righteousness, he would turn round and say, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). If he ever had a frown on his brow, it was for the hypocrite and the proud man. But he had tears for sinners and loving invitations for penitent ones.
I am certain that to preach the wrath of God with a hard heart, a cold lip, a tearless eye, and an unfeeling spirit is to harden men, not benefit them.