It’s not enough to serve the Lord, we must love him.
As it says in MT 22:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (35-38)
The Pharisees did good works but had no love for God. Jesus said of them:
“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” MT 15.8
Before Jesus saved me, I feared Jesus, but did not love him. I feared going to hell for my sins. I went to church and did “church” things, but not out of love for Jesus.
We who believe in Jesus can work for him yet fail to love him.
In Revelation 2 God tells the church in Ephesus:
“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. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” RE 2.1-4
The NAS interprets v4: But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
And the NLT puts it this way: But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!
The Ephesians were doing the work – Jesus mentions their toil, patient endurance, not tolerating evil, testing false apostles, enduring and bearing up for the sake of his name – he says, “you have not grown weary.” Wow! They were doing a lot for the Lord. But somehow in all their labor they had abandoned their love for Jesus.
Imagine a wife says to her husband, “I love you so much honey,” and the husband is silent. She asks him, “Do you love me?” And he says, “Hey look at all I do for you. I go to work every day to bring home the bacon. I cut the grass, I clean out the gutters, I take your car to get it inspected. Don’t you think I love you?”
We need Jesus’ help!
We need him to constantly fill us with love for him. We don’t want to go through the motions. When we gather on Sundays each of us should pray, “Jesus fill me with love for you. Help me worship you from the heart. Help me love my brothers and sisters because I love you.” When we go to serve someone, we should ask for Jesus to give us grace to serve as an expression of love to him.
If you are concerned about your lack of love for Jesus, even that is a good thing. It shows that you want to love him. None of us love Jesus the way we should. His blood covers our failure, and he sits on the throne of grace, just waiting for us to draw near for mercy for our failures and grace to help us love him in our time of need.
Let’s ask Jesus today to fill us with fresh love for him, and help us do all we do out of love for him.