I picked up the current issue of "Our Daily Bread" this morning, and today's (June 8, 2011) devotional was based on Revelation 2:1-7. I recently referred to that passage for a paper I was writing, so was interested to see what was being said about it. Joe Stowell writes: "Good behavior should always be an act of worship. Resisting temptation, forgiving, serving, and loving each other are all opportuninties to tangibly express our love for Jesus -- not to get a star next to our name or a pat on the back".
The passage from John's Revelation is directed to the Church at Ephesus, and in it Jesus chastizes the local congregation for leaving their first love behind. "You have forsaken your first love" "repent and do the things you did at first". (Rev 2 4-5, NIV)
We see it all the time, not just at church, but at our various jobs, our relationships, in school, even in play. Did you ever buy an expensive 'have to have' piece of sports equipment or video game, and after about a week not have time for it any more?
We start something new and we're way excited, but it quickly becomes old, and we tire of the ridicule, or other things take precedence in our lives. New believers are often on fire for the Lord, but as time goes by they frequently seem to run out of stream. They don't have the time to do the things that they were doing, it's not that they're doing anything wrong, they're just not doing as much of the right stuff or they're doing the right stuff but not dfor the right reasons. As Stowell points out, our good behavior should be an act of worship, an act of telling Jesus how much we love Him.
Stowell refers to the star next to our name, or a pat on the back. I put it a little differently: we don't do ABC or XYZ to earn Jesus' love, to earn God's love, to earn our salvation, but rather because of it! The church at Ephesus might have stopped doing the things they had been doing, or maybe they kept doing some of them, but for the wrong reasons.
People go to church to show off new cars and clothes, but forget to worship while they're there. They help widows and orphans and feed the hungry because it's a tax write-off. Their prayers are a way to let God know what a good job they're doing, and practicing the spiritual disciplines is more about letting others know how 'holy' they are. It's easy to forsake the first love.
I have to ask myself if I'm doing 'stuff' for the gold star or as an act of worship. My whole life should be an act of worship, sadly though, it doesn't always turn out that way.
As Joe Stowell puts it, "When was the last time you did something "good" out of love for Jesus?
Think about it