First Love (Tending The Vineyard Within)
Isn’t it interesting that we can begin in such a simple and beautiful relationship with God at our first point of faith, yet find ourselves distracted and involved in so many other things, even seemingly good things, but that draw our focus off of our love that we had at first with Jesus? What gives? See, there are many subtle temptations out there in religion and in the world that seek to steal us away from grace and what Jesus has redeemed us from. So, what does the bible say about this and how do we stay protected from falling victim to them and losing the joy of our salvation that comes through first love?
To answer this question I want to take a look at a few verses that directly deal with the issue of being distracted away from Jesus and His gospel truth that sets us free.
“My angry brothers quarreled with me
and appointed me guardian of their ministry vineyards,
yet I’ve not tended my vineyard within.” Song of Solomon 1:6
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” II Corinthians 11:3
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
These are but a few, yet over and over again the bible looks out for us warning that we are to guard what has been deposited to us through the Gospel of grace. The Gospel is that Jesus has saved us from sin and has brought us into a relationship with God that is no longer dependent upon our performance but rests in the perfect performance of our Great High Priest Jesus Who has saved us and has given us that salvation (forgiveness of and freedom from sin) as a gift of His love, mercy, and grace. He Who began will complete. As Galatians 3 tells us, we did not begin by our efforts and we don’t finish by them either, but by the Spirit Who gave and gives us newness of life. We do not walk away from that.
If you read Revelation 2: 1-7 you can see that just because a church may be doing a lot on the outside and what they are doing may even look great, that does not mean that they are continuing in the gospel of grace that they had first received which brought about their first love. We are called to remain in the place that we first received the grace of God and continue with Him in it (See, Colossians 2: 6-15). That place in which we are to remain is in the acceptance of His great love and gift of salvation wherein He has saved us and sustains our salvation. We didn’t get ourselves saved, and so we can’t keep ourselves saved. In trying to keep ourselves saved (depending on our works) we are rejecting the first embrace where we believed the Gospel of Christ which is that He (not us) saved us. We need to remind ourselves of this continually.
I want to encourage you this week, if you are looking to yourself for evidence of your salvation or if you are depending on yourself to keep you saved, take your eyes off of yourself and look to Jesus Who alone is your salvation. His obedience Has saved you and His truth (the Gospel) has set you free (See, Romans 5:19 & John 8:31), and now that you are in Him and He is in you, His nature of love that remains in you will more and more come out into your everyday life as you simply abide in that place of first love thus allowing Christ to tend His vineyard within you.
-- Pastor Shane