“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.’” Revelation 2:1 (ESV)

Ephesus was the leading city in ancient Asia, the gateway to the Roman Empire. It was a very immoral city perhaps because it was home to the great temple of Artemis (Acts 19:35). The church of Ephesus was founded by Paul (Acts 18) and later left in the hands of Timothy to pastor (1 Timothy 1:3). According to tradition, the apostle John lived in Ephesus for a time where he wrote his three epistles and the gospel of John.

In addressing the church in Ephesus, Jesus commended the Ephesian Christians regarding some their works.  “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. . . .  Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:2-3, 6 ESV)

Apparently, there were some in Ephesus who rose up claiming to be apostles of Jesus, claiming to carry that same authority. The apostle Paul had warned the Ephesian elders that “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among our own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29). Remembering Paul’s words, the Ephesian church took the imposters to task, discrediting them and the false teaching they spread. They also had tirelessly labored for the cause and name of Christ, hating the work of the Nicolaitans who were undoubtedly teaching false doctrine and encouraging compromise with the Ephesian culture.

Yet, there was one thing for which Jesus rebuked the Ephesian church, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4 ESV) In the midst of their hard labor for the cause and name of Christ, the Ephesian church had grown cold to Christ himself. They had their doctrine in order and had defended it against false teachers. They had hated the works of those who called themselves Christians yet had compromised their faith with the culture around them. And while doing so they abandoned the love that had driven them to toil so tirelessly.

As Christians we must guard ourselves closely from falling into the same trap as the Ephesian church. What at first is a labor of love for Christ can become a love of the labor. We get so caught up in right doctrine and good works that our affection for Christ wanes from where it began until it disappears. We forget the reason we began at first to work for Christ. We might also expect that as our affection for the labor replaces our affection for Christ, our affection for the labor will replace our affection for others.

Jesus has a remedy for this fallen condition, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5 ESV) Three steps: remember, repent and re-do. If we refuse to repent Jesus will remove our light, the reason for our existence (Revelation 2:5; Matthew 5:16). However, let your ears hear the Spirit: If we conquer we will be permitted to enjoy all of the pleasures offered to us eternally in heaven (Revelation 2:7).

Have you recently examined the reason for your labor for Christ? Are you a conqueror?

Scriptures for meditation:
Matthew 22:37

Copyright © 2024 Steve Pruitt/lovnJesus.com

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