Three Steps to Renewal (Part 1)

Three Steps to Renewal (Part 1) November 19, 2018

The church at Ephesus had an intense and rich relationship with Christ. But eventually their love for Him cooled off. In Revelation 2:5, Jesus speaks to the Ephesian believers and gives them a three-step plan to restore the relationship:

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…”

The same three steps will heal and revive the love of any married couple. Today I want us to look at that first step: remember from where you have fallen.

New Christians tend to be passionate. That’s when our relationship with God is fresh and bold, and we’re willing to do almost anything to serve Christ. We’ll seek God at every opportunity.

However, as time goes by, other things begin to compete for our attention. Inevitably we will give in to those pressures. We soon find ourselves cooling off toward God.

Is this just a necessary way to mature as a Christian? I don’t think so, because Jesus called it the sin of “losing your first love for Him.” The reason we lost that first love is because we stopped working at the relationship.

What’s the solution? Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us to try to conjure up old emotions in order to restore the relationship—as if we could squint our eyes and really, really try to be back in love—because He knows emotion isn’t at the core of true love.

The word used most often in the New Testament for “love” is the Greek word agape, which means “a commitment to do what is right for someone else regardless of emotions.” The most powerful kind love isn’t something we feel. It’s something we do. True love is a commitment.

God’s foundation for love is the decision to act in another’s best interests regardless of our feelings. Feelings can be wonderful, but they are unreliable as the foundation of a relationship.

Feelings change. They are transitory and unreliable—but right and wrong do not change. Blessing and security are only available when we do what is right regardless of our feelings.

That’s why Jesus commanded the Ephesians to recall their actions at the beginning of their commitment to Him, when their love was intense. He didn’t tell them to remember how they felt. He wanted them to remember what they did.

When your marriage has fallen away from its early passion, the solution isn’t to fake it with shallow feelings of infatuation, but to remember the joyous details of your happy, sacrificial actions.

How did you treat each other when the relationship was fulfilling and exciting? How did you talk to each other and serve each other? How did you prepare for your time together? How did you focus on doing the little things that showed how much you cared?

This week, your job is to think back, and remember those actions. How do they differ from your actions today? Compare them, and you’ll be ready for step two of God’s plan for renewal: repent. We’ll discuss it in the next Marriage Builder.


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