What Comes First in Our Relationship with God?
by Wayne Stiles
If Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, we’d pull out our checklist and start down it.
- “Should I go on a mission trip, Lord?”
- “Should I pray more?”
- “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
“You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”
I have discovered that slips in our relationship with God never start with the big things. They begin with the basics.
We would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology.
And yet, how often we betray a more basic element.
Doing Great Things but Missing the Best Thing
For more than two years, the Apostle Paul lived in Ephesus and ministered to the church in that city. Later, he wrote the letter of Ephesians to them, and later still he penned two letters to their pastor, Timothy.
The Ephesian church received incredible instruction!
Thirty years later, the Holy Spirit inspired John to write yet another letter to the Ephesians within the book of Revelation.
Jesus commended them highly. Just look at their checklist:
- They were stellar in both their deeds and their doctrine (Revelation 2:2).
- They labored even to the point of suffering for Christ’s name (Revelation 2:3).
- They put people to the test, preserving sound doctrine (Revelation 2:2).
What a church! But Jesus added, “I have this against you . . .” (Revelation 2:4). A complaint? Really?
Jesus told the Ephesians, “You have left your first love.” Their relationship with God had grown cold.
The Most Important Part
Although we feverishly serve the Lord and remain firm in our doctrine, like the Ephesians, we can let our devotion slip–or at least, take a back seat.
- Remember what Christ asked Peter three times after the resurrection? “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17).
- Keep in mind what Jesus told a frantic Martha about her sister Mary, who sat at His feet? “Mary has chosen what is better” (Luke 10:42).
- Remember what the Lord said is the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
All these cause us to evaluate our relationship with God.
Our serving God should never replace our devotion to Him (John 15:5). Instead, our devotion should fuel our serving. The Lord Jesus points to our first love for Him as the hub from which every other activity should flow.
Our First Love
Have we grown so much in knowledge and service that our love for Jesus has grown cold? Has the Great Commission replaced the great commandment (Matthew 22:36-38)?
Our deeds and our doctrine should form the wake behind our devotion to God. Our first love comes first.
Question: What helps you to remember that loving God is most important part of your life? Please leave a comment.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), p. 128. Used by permission.