The Loveless Church
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” [Revelation 2:4]
I’ve often said that “a little knowledge and a little confidence is a dangerous combination.” Mixing the two oftentimes siphons out humility. Humility gets us to yield to the Teacher and to take in what He’s teaching. But it is oftentimes when we’re overconfident that we stop listening, learning, and receiving what the Teacher teaches. We begin to think that we can do it on our own. That is what happened to the church at Ephesus.
We have a wealth of Scripture on the church at Ephesus. Paul planted the church during his 2nd Missionary journey [ref. Acts 18:19]. The gifts of the Spirit were powerfully active [ref. Acts 19:11]. There was much love and fellowship among the believers [ref. Acts 20:17-38]. There is a cannoned letter that Paul wrote specifically to the Ephesian saints. Timothy and John were Overseers of that church at various times in their ministries. We therefore can read Ephesians, parts of Acts, 1 & 2 Timothy, and 1, 2, and 3 John and piece together valuable insight into the Ephesian fellowship. And yet, here in Revelation, we have Jesus’ commentary.
They were exhorted to watch their doctrine closely [ref 1 Ti. 4:15]. They were warned that savage wolves would come in to divide their flock [ref Acts 20:29]. They were encouraged to labor for the truth [ref 1 Ti. 1:18-19]. And they were warned about false teachers [ref 1 Ti. 4:6].
This makes it all the more interesting to see what Jesus had to say in Rev 2:1-7. How’d they do? He commends them in Rev 2:2-3; 2:6. They did well with doctrine, endurance, identifying false teachers, and living righteous and pure lives.
Yet Jesus rebukes them in Rev 2:4-5. They had left their first love. They departed from their intimate love relationship with Jesus. Their fellowship had become mature in doctrine, Scripture, and discerning false teachers. They had become a learned people. BUT this came at the great cost of leaving their First Love.
Can we, too, become so learned that we leave our First Love? The church at Ephesus serves as a warning, even to us. Education in the Scriptures is important, but it can never be at the expense of love.
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Let’s make sure that we are both loving and learning the Scriptures in all humility.