How can I return to my “first love” for the Lord?
When a person receives Christ as his Savior, he experiences the delight of “first love” for the Lord. God’s Spirit witnesses with his spirit that he is a child of God (see Romans 8:16), and this newfound relationship brings great joy and freedom.
Unfortunately, many Christians fall away from this first love. When a believer does not depend on God to meet his daily needs, his love for God grows cold.
Jesus addressed this issue when He spoke to the church of Ephesus. Jesus said: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works . . .” (Revelation 2:4–5). If you find yourself in this position, ask God to have mercy on you and to rekindle your love for Him.
Remember, Repent, and Do the “First Works”
Recalling your salvation experience and your first love for the Lord can help you recognize changes that have developed in your relationship with God since then. Do you have a greater or weaker sense of your need for God now? Are you cooler toward God and less passionate about spiritual things than you once were?
If so, repent of your indifference toward God. Repentance involves a change of mind, heart, and direction. Forsake the thoughts, attitudes, and actions that have drawn your attention away from wholehearted love for God. Receive God’s forgiveness, and renew your commitment to do the “first works” of your faith.
Understand the Purpose of Doing the “First Works”
In Revelation 2:5, the word first means “foremost (in time, place, order or importance),” and the word works is defined as “toil (as an effort or occupation).” In other words, if you find that you have left your first love for the Lord, get your priorities back in order and do the most important things.
Obviously, from the definition of work, this involves effort; it is not something that happens without effort on your part or without grace on God’s part. First works could refer to many “important efforts,” and here we will discuss several of them: worship, prayer, Bible study, giving, fasting, and service to others. Each of these activities is designed to deepen your intimate relationship with God.
One of the ways that we bring glory to God and cultivate our love for Him is by worshiping Him. Take time to ponder God. Consider His acts in creation and in the circumstances of your life. Adore Him. Sing praises to Him. Bless His holy name.
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).
Each aspect of prayer is designed to remind you of your dependence on God:
- Petitions bring to mind the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs that you face each day. Your resources cannot meet these needs—you need God’s intervention.
- Requests reveal your motives. Are you seeking to advance God’s kingdom, or are you attempting to build your own kingdom (i.e., satisfying selfish desires)?
- Confession recognizes your unworthiness before a holy God and His immeasurable mercy and love for you, His child.
- Thanksgiving reflects an understanding of your dependence on God as you thank Him for meeting specific needs.
- Intercession is the means by which you share the needs of others before God’s throne.
“In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
God’s Word: Study, Memorization, and Meditation
Reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture causes you to grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ. As “newborn babes” you are to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (I Peter 2:2). The awareness of your need for God will fuel your desire for His Word.
Studying the Bible may lead to discouragement as you learn about God’s holiness and how far short you fall from His perfection. God commands Christians to be holy as He is holy (see I Peter 1:15–16), but instead of fostering discouragement, this understanding can create a deepening sense of need before your loving, merciful Father. (See Romans 5:8, Psalm 103:14, and Philippians 2:12–13.)
Jesus instructed His disciples, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Generosity offsets the compulsion to be “rich, and increased with goods” (Revelation 3:17), a state of life that can cool your love for God. Giving a tithe (ten percent of your income) or more is not simply a way to financially support the Church—it is a regular reminder that all you have belongs to God. (See I Timothy 6:17–19.)
Fasting effectively demonstrates the reality that life does not consist of the things you possess (see Luke 12:15 and Deuteronomy 8:3) and deepens your awareness of spiritual, mental, and emotional needs.
Ask the Lord to give you attentiveness to His voice as He brings needs to your attention and directs you to meet them—in His strength, with His love, and for His glory. As you serve in His name, you will know the joy of the Lord, which is your strength. (See Nehemiah 8:10.)
If you have left your first love for the Lord, remember, repent, and return to the first works of your faith. May God rekindle your love for Him!
This material is adapted from pages 5–10 of the Training Faithful Men Resource Manual.