Revelation 2:5 instructs us to remember from where we have fallen, to repent, and to do the works we did when we had our first love. We have three commands here: remember, repent, and do. If we fail to follow through on these, God says very bluntly, "I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place." This is serious!
Individually, then, we must compare our present attitudes, efforts, zeal, and love to what they were when we were first converted. We should have no trouble doing this because, for most of us, our first months or years in the church are still vivid in our minds. We probably all had similar experiences.
We expressed our first love by diligently obeying all we learned. We took great pains to study, fast, pray, and meditate regularly, giving up valuable time we had once used for our recreation or entertainment. We stood up for the Sabbath and argued with the school system and our employers over Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. We tithed carefully, and the holy days, especially the Feast of Tabernacles, were such a thrill!
We hungered for God's Word and could never get enough of the Bible and the church's literature. We had faith in the ministers God sent to us, seeing them as helpers of our joy. We really worked to overcome every little sin we found, not wanting to disappoint God in the least matter. We had supreme faith in God's purpose, both for mankind as a whole and for us as individuals. We were very serious about our calling.
We would have done none of these things before being called. Our first love was a wonderful thing to behold—true devotion and dedication to God, manifested by zealously bending every effort to conform to His will. We outwardly loved God and trusted Him. He was always in our thoughts.
Some people in this world get a kind of first love for a political party, a team, or a cause. But our first love came upon us because God opened our minds and revealed Himself to us, and what we saw we recognized as truly awesome and wondrous. When we learned that such a magnificent Being wanted us to be members of His Family forever, we caught the vision! This opened our minds to new thoughts, new ideas, new horizons—and so we were filled with first love.
Years may have passed. The "newness" of God's way has worn off. Friends, family, and ministers have let us down. So much has changed in our lives and in the church that those heady days seem impossible to recapture. But God commands us that we must remember what it was like and return to them in spirit, in attitude, and in works because God has not let us down nor has His purpose changed.
Paul tells Timothy to "stir up the gift of God which is in you" (II Timothy 1:6), and in a sense, this is what Christ reminds us to do in His brief message to the Ephesian church. We have to stir ourselves to rekindle our love for God and the brethren and serve them in humility and kindness.
Once we regain this godly love, we will probably notice that it is somewhat different from what we had just after conversion. Most of us have had many years of experience and growth in the meantime. This will tend to produce a more seasoned, mature "first love," which is exactly what God wants. We will be able to pursue godliness with the zeal of youth and the wisdom of maturity.
— John O. Reid (1930-2016