Do you remember your first love? I remember mine. 5th grade, Cindy McClane. We held hands and I think we even “carved” our initials in a tree. My family moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania this same year. The relationship ended and I thought my life was over. As a dad of fifth grade twin boys, the thought of my ‘first love’ in 5th grade really makes me laugh!
One of the most important lessons I ever learned about first love and marriage was when I was a single guy at a ministry in Atlanta called 7:22. The teacher at 7:22 was Louie Giglio, and Kristen and I both distinctly remember a story Louie told about a conversation he had with his soon-to-be-wife, Shelley. As they were walking along the beach together, they joked back and forth about not being each other’s first love. Louie told Shelley, “You’ll never be my first love.” She replied, “That’s great, because you’ll always be my second love.”
I remember thinking to myself, ‘what’s wrong with these two?’ How can she be his second love? Doesn’t he know that’s how affairs happen? And if they both love someone else more, then why don’t they break up and go marry the other person??
Who is your first love?
I recently read John’s letter to the church in Ephesus found in Revelation 2:1-7. After affirming the Ephesians’ commitment to sound doctrine and endurance, John rebukes them for forgetting their first love. He says in Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” In other words, even though they were doing some things worthy of praise and encouragement, they had forgotten and neglected their first love: Jesus.
I see this problem so many times in couples. They prepare well for marriage, diligently pursue the Lord and each other, get married, and then get stuck in poor patterns. They get stuck because they have neglected their first love.
To make things worse, they have also neglected their second love: their spouse. They become so focused on their own selfish needs and desires, that they neglect their spouse.
What do you do when you have forgotten your first love?
What do you do? You follow John’s rebuke and correction in Revelation 2. You remember your first love, you repent of neglecting this love, change your patterns/behaviors, and you do what you did when you first fell in love.
1. You remember from where you have fallen and you remember your first love (Revelation 2:5a)
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”
We don’t love because we’re naturally selfless, loving people. We love because Christ has loved us and showed us how to demonstrate His love to others.
2. You repent of neglecting your first (and second) loves (Revelation 2:5b)
To repent means to change your mind and your actions. You repent of a selfish love and commit to a selfless, others-centered love.
Kristen and I have tried really hard to apply this from day one of marriage. She knows I love her second. And when I don’t, it’s very apparent I love ME the most and everyone else comes in a distant second.
3. You do the works you did at first (Revelation 2:5c)
When I was a new Christian, I couldn’t get enough of God’s Word. I read it, meditated on it, journaled about it, memorized it, and shared it with everyone around me. You couldn’t keep me from telling others about Jesus.
When I first liked Kristen, I creatively pursued her, actively listened to her, and selflessly prioritized her.
I need to be reminded to do the works I did at first, both in my relationship with the Lord and with Kristen.
Why my wife will never be my first love
So it turns out Louie & Shelley Giglio got it right. The reason they were each other’s second love was because they knew Jesus was their first love. If you get the first love right, the second one will work itself out.
To my single friends: pursue Christ. Don’t let anyone else become a higher priority to you during this season of life. If you want to get married someday, this is the best thing you can do to prepare for marriage.
To the premarried couple: guess what? You got it – pursue Christ. In this fun season of dating, engagement, and wedding prep, keep your priorities straight and don’t neglect your first love.
To the married: Don’t neglect your first love. Remember, repent, do the things you did at first, both with God and with your spouse. If you have kids, make sure you keep your relationship with Christ and then your spouse the highest priority. When you remember your first love, it’s easier to truly love your second love.
Photo credit: Tammy from Flikr.com