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How To Do “Everything” Right and Still Be Wrong

October 23, 2012

[2:1] “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.
[2] “‘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. [3] I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. [4] But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. [5] Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
(Revelation 2:1-5 ESV)

The church at Ephesus did many things well. So well, that at the beginning of the book of Revelation they are commended for all they do to honor the Lord. In fact, they are doing 9 things well. Jesus states these things he knows about the church at Ephesus:

  • “I know your works.” Even when you think that your taking the trash out for your elderly neighbor goes unnoticed, the Lord sees your good works.
  • He also knows your “toil.” He knows the pain involved in these works.
  • He knows your “endurance.” The work of living for the sake of others is exhausting and the Lord knows that.
  • He knows that they “cannot bear with those who are evil.” While the church should be friendly towards those outside the church, they should never associate with evil.
  • They have “tested those who call themselves apostles.” This speaks to a regular practice of making sure your leaders are legit.
  • They have even found some of these “leaders” to “be false.” They clearly knew their Bibles so they could identify false teachers AND they had the guts to kick people out when they were found to be false.
  • In 2:3 he again commends them for their “endurance.”
  • They are “bearing up” for his “name’s sake.”
  • They “have not grown weary.”

The lesson for us, I believe, from this list of 9 attributes is to praise the work of the Lord you see in someone before you ever bring up something they need to work on. No only are you softening their ears to actually listen to you, but you are also honoring the work the Lord is doing in someone instead of advancing your own agenda.

The second lesson for us is that we can do all these things and still be lacking. 2:2-3 has a string of “and” statements that are unbroken until you get to 2:4 where there is a big “BUT.” The church has abandoned the love they had at first.

All of us know the kind of love Jesus is talking about. Think back to the first time your knew you loved the person you are now married to. When Sarah and I were dating, I used to drive 13 hours round trip every 2 weeks just to see her…and I hate driving…anything longer than 2 hours is a near death experience for me. We do things when we are newly in love that we might not do further down the road. Apathy, comfort, and time numb our sense of excitement and exuberance.

This happens in our walk with the Lord too. I can remember when I came to faith as an 18-year-old. I was excited to spend time in the Bible, to go to a Bible study, and even serve in my church. Now there are days when I “fit in” time to read my Bible, debate if I am too tired to go to Bible study or not, and loathe the sight of full trash bags that need to be taken to the dumpster at the end of a Sunday night.

I feel, at times, like I have lost my first love. Do you feel that too?

What would it take for you to rekindle the fire? Would you try a little harder? Maybe attend a few more church meetings…that’ll get cha going!

No…none of that will. You can add to the list of 9 things all you want, but the list of one thing you are lacking will still be there. Revelation 2:5 has the answer in two words – remember and repent. Remember what the Lord has done among you and for you. Remember his goodness, his salvation, and even the way he has lovingly disciplined you. Second, repent. Turn from your lack of love for him. Declare it to be wrong and walk away from it into newness of life through sincere love for the Lord and his church.

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