“First Love”                                      

Revelation 2:4

            I am not sure that anyone can really define the term “first love;” but I am sure that it can be clearly identified. Do not imagine that this is merely an emotional or sentimental thing that has no real significance. This thing called “first love” is very important to God our Savior (Jer. 2:1-2).

            WHAT IS THIS FIRST LOVE? When our Savior says, “Thou hast left thy first love,” it is obvious that he is not suggesting that some who were once true believers and once truly loved him, in time, cease to love him and cease to trust him. That kind of doctrine is heresy! True faith never ceases to believe. And true love can never be quenched. Anyone who ceases to trust Christ, never truly trusted him at all. Anyone who ceases to love Christ, never truly loved him. Faith in and love for the Lord Jesus Christ are gifts of God’s saving grace that can never be taken away, lost, or destroyed (Jer. 32:38-40; Hos. 2:19-20). Yet, God’s people do sometimes leave their first love. Through indolence, neglect of duty, and the care of this world, the heat and fervor of our love for Christ sometimes abates, and the exercise of love toward him diminishes.

            Go back to Mt. Calvary, where the Lord Jesus Christ first appeared to you, bleeding and dying upon the cursed tree as your Substitute. There he spoke to your heart, by his Spirit, through the word of his grace, and said, I am thy Salvation! I have redeemed you. All your sins are forgiven, washed away in this fountain of my blood. Immediately, you fell in love with the Son of God. Had he asked, you would gladly have given anything and everything to him, even your very life! In fact, he did ask and you gladly lost your life to him and for his sake. Did you not? Did you not voluntarily lay your all at his feet?

            It is that “first love,” that reckless, careless, uninhibited, unrestrained love, that love that considers neither cost or consequence, that is sometimes left. Have you left this “first love” for Christ? Have I? “First love” inspired our hearts to almost unceasing prayer, praise, and communion. :”First love” caused us to earnestly and zealously confess Christ to men. “First love” for Christ made his Word our most delightful treasure. That “first love” made the house of God, the ministry of the Word, and the fellowship of God’s saints the most important and most joyful things in the world to us. That “first love” caused us to do the will of God with unquestioning faith and unhesitating obedience. Do you remember that “first love?” Then we would have given anything for the cause of Christ, done anything for the glory of Christ, and gone anywhere at the bidding of Christ. No sacrifice seemed to be a sacrifice when our hearts yet burned with live coals from off the altar! Now, we are more mature, more learned, more settled, more refined, more thoughtful, more cold, more lifeless, more useless! The charge, I fear, must be owned - “Thou hast left thy first love!”

            HOW DID WE LEAVE OUR FIRST LOVE? What happened? Where did we go wrong? Rarely, if ever, does this decline in love begin with some climatic event. It gradually steals over our hearts and suffocates our souls by degrees. But the cause of the decline is not hard to find. If we will be honest with ourselves, we will find that the decay comes from three sources. 1. Our love declines whenever we willfully neglect the Lord Jesus Christ (Song. of Sol. 5:2-6). We are like the planets and the sun. Some planets are as hot as fire. Others are cold as ice. Some move very slowly around the sun. Others spin around it with great speed. Why? Some are very near the sun and others are very far away. So it is with us. If we live near Christ, in blessed communion and fellowship, we cannot help loving him and being controlled by our love for him. The heart that lives nearest the Sun of Righteousness is most enflamed with love by him and for him. But when we neglect our Savior, our love declines. Be sure you understand me. I do not suggest that we love Christ less. Every saved sinner grows in grace, faith, and love. But, sometimes, just as a man neglects his wife whom he dearly loves and, yet, takes her for granted and is presumptuous of her love, so too, believers often neglect the Savior they most truly love. We do not love him less (See John 21:17); but our hearts are less enflamed with and overwhelmed by love for him. 2. Another thing that causes our love for Christ to decay is the love of the world (Matt. 13:22). Very, very few people increase in riches and in grace at the same time. Of all the temptations to which God’s saints are exposed in this world, this is most dangerous, because it is the most subtle. Too much of the world is an evil encumbrance to anyone. 3. The third cause of decline in love for Christ is carnal presumption (Amos 6:1). Presumption quenches zeal. Self-confidence weakens faith. And self-righteousness cools love.

            WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REGAIN OUR FIRST LOVE? If we truly belong to Christ, though we decline in love to him, his love for us will not decline! Because he loves us, he will chasten us, and cause us to return to him (Song. of Sol. 5:6-7). If we do not return to Christ, if our decline is permanent, it is because our love is a fake, a pretense, a sham profession of love, and no more. If any lover of Christ would regain that first love, he gives us three words of counsel in verse seven. REMEMBER! “Remember from whence thou art fallen!” Remember what a blessed condition your soul was in when you enjoyed that first love (Song of Sol. 2:4-6). Remember what you were and where you were when the Savior found you (Isa. 51:1). Remember what you owe the Son of God (Ezek. 16:6-14). REPENT! Repent, as you did at the beginning. Repent of the evil you have done to Christ. RETURN! “Repent and do the first works.” That is just another way of saying, “Return unto the Lord.” Return to the place where you first met the Son of God. Return to Calvary. Bathe your sin-sick soul again in the precious blood of Christ.


Don Fortner