By Rick Wood
Pastor, Pursuit Christian Fellowship
Last week was Valentine’s Day…a day that people use to express their love for a family member or someone special in their lives. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll know that having a good relationship with someone can be a wonderful thing. Whether it’s just a good friend or a potential spouse, good solid relationships can be challenging to come by. And no matter how good the relationship is, at some point it’s bound to undergo the test of a trial. Anyone who’s been in a relationship long enough can tell you that when things are good, it’s good. But when things are bad, it can be really bad. Many of us may find ourselves stuck in the ‘bad’ position longer than desired. It’s never a good thing to see good people in bad situations.
In Revelation chapter 2 of the Bible, we find Jesus speaking to a very good church. Verses 2 and 3 of that chapter recite the accomplishments of the church in Ephesus. They were a very hard working church that didn’t tolerate false apostles and endured hardships for the name of Jesus without growing weary. These are surely the type of traits that are needed of churches today. But as great as the Ephesian church was, they had a problem. Jesus told them that He had something against them, that they had forsaken the love they had at first…the church had a relationship problem with Jesus…imagine that!
Here was a great church with a relationship problem. But what’s interesting is the very next verse, the beginning of verse 5 that outlines God’s answer to their dilemma. Verse 5a states, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…” Jesus tells the Ephesian church three things that they must do to restore their relationship with Him. Though these instructions were God’s specific words to the Ephesian church for the restoring of their relationship, the instructions prove to be very practical for even our relationships today.
First, Jesus tells them to consider how far they’ve fallen. In other words, look back and see where you used to be. As we ponder our strained relationships, it’s good to take note of how far we’ve fallen away from what it used to be. When we do this, it helps us to identify a specific event or patterns of behavior that may have caused the relationship to become unstable. Looking back is not about identifying weaknesses in the other person, but about identifying our own faults and weaknesses as well.
Once we do that, then the next part of the verse comes into play…it’s a one-word command…repent! In scripture, the word ‘repent’ means to change your mind, to change your way of thinking. And as our minds change, so should our actions…we should be doing the opposite of what we were doing initially. As you’ve identified faults and weaknesses in your troubled relationships, you can also find opportunity to not only be sorry, but to change your ways from this point forward. This is a huge step in the restoration process.
Lastly, Jesus tells them that there’s some action involved. He tells them to do the things you did at first. As we contemplate the fruitful times of the relationship, focus on the actions that made the relationship successful. What was being done that made the relationship a good one? Whatever it was, go back and try doing those things again. And when we do, we should begin to experience the love and joy that we so missed prior to the relationship deteriorating.
As you’ve read this I’m quite sure that your mind immediately thought of a struggled relationship…maybe even one that you’ve avoided for years. But now it’s time to get it right. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom and strength to do the right thing, and trust God to open the heart of the other person so that you can enjoy a renewed relationship with them. Be blessed!