Amy Carroll » Growing Spiritually » Unacceptable


When I was growing up, there were a few things in our household I knew were unacceptable. My parents were kind and loving, but I knew there were a few actions not to be tolerated.

I couldn’t comment negatively about another person’s physical attributes.

I couldn’t lay the paper napkins on the table under the forks without folding it into a neat triangle.

I couldn’t use the f-word that refers to a certain bodily function most likely to happen after you eat beans.

Those might seem silly, but there really do need to be boundaries, right? Most of the boundaries established in my mind pertain to actions.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

So many times I think we see God purely in the same terms. We see Him as the maker-of-rules, the setter-of-boundaries, the determiner-of-“do this” and “don’t do that”. And certainly that’s true to some extent. The One who established the rules of nature like gravity and the rules of morals like purity is the same One who sets boundaries for us. He’s God, and He is the only One worthy to set the rules.

In Rev. 2: 1-7, the church at Ephesus seemed to have high marks in following the rules. Hardworking? Check. Persevering? Check? Calling out wicked men and false apostles? Check. Enduring hardship in Jesus’ name? Check. Not growing weary? Check. Hating bad theology? Check, check, check.

The church in Ephesus was praised by God for good works, and that’s no small thing. As Christians we’re called to good works.

But something essential was missing. And the essential missing element made them unacceptable.

Unacceptable is a strong word, but God told the church at Ephesus that He’d “remove their lampstand”, His blessing and Light, without it.


What was this essential element?

First love.

This scripture pierced my heart, because I’ve been the church at Ephesus so many times. They are me. I’m the one with the checklist of rules dominating my life while my heart toward God has grown cold. I’ve got the “to dos” right, but my heart is wrong.

Why is love so essential to God? Without it, all we’ve got left is an external religious form, and…

An external religious form without insides flooded with a passionate, zealous, joyful love is unacceptable to God. (Click to Tweet)

The church at Ephesus almost had it all, but they became unacceptable without the essential ingredient of love. Let us be filled fresh today with a first love for God that spills over into good works!

I’d love to hear your insights about the church at Ephesus. You can join me in this study journey of the churches in Revelation by copying and using the PDF below. I’ve included pics of my chicken scratch…I’m mean scholarly pursuits just below the PDF.

Subscribers, you may have to click on the post’s title to see all the attachments.

Study of Rev. 2 & 3 churches

study p 1

study p 2

study p 3

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  1. Tristina Senter says:

    Love, I knew it before I read it. I too struggle with this. I feel I do acts of love but my way of showing love doesn’t always translate that way to the person I am trying to show love too. I know this but I continue to show my love in a way that is not seen as love. Why can’t I show love the way that person needs to be loved. I have been pondering this question for a while and I say to myself I am going to do something different today but I fall into my same pattern. I pray right now that God help me to show love to others the way they need to receive it.