When Scripture records a warning to Christians, take note. It’s a clue: other Christians had these problems and we probably will too.

Look at Revelation 2:4 with its warning against losing our first love. There is danger: it can happen. The loss of our first love can be gradual and unwitting.

How do we renew our passion for Jesus?

The basic answer is: Think again about your reason for loving Him in the first place.

Why is Jesus valuable to you? Why would you want to love Jesus?

Paul gives us a great look at the Christian motivation:

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

Paul considers the knowledge of Christ to be excellent. He knows it is of more value to him, personally, than all other things. He tells us the reason it is worth so much:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

Paul’s answer is bold: Jesus brings a good reward. That is why he loves and follows Jesus. Paul comes again and again to reward as his reason to worship.

For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him” (2 Timothy 2:11b).

Are you not accustomed to thinking this way? Among Christians today there is a strong aversion to self-interest. Consider the tone of self-sacrifice common in a modern worship song:

Everything I once held dear
I count it all as loss
Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

The song quotes from Philippians 3: “Everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss…” but inexplicably the song cuts off at that point and omits any reference to the rest of the passage, the part that says, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

Instead it inserts the words “Rid me of myself.” Rid me of my sinful nature, perhaps? But which verse says “Rid me of myself”? If you’re having a hard time renewing your passion for Jesus, ask what motivation you think is proper for a Christian: the one expressed by Paul—or the one expressed by Hillsong?

It’s difficult to become passionate about death. Self-sacrifice is not the reason for your first love. You came to Jesus in the first place because He promised you life. He promised a way to “save yourself” (Acts 2:40, 1 Timothy 4:16).

Why do we love Jesus? “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). At face value, this means we love Him because He has been so good to us.

Many preachers attempt to draw a distinction between loving “the gift” and loving “the giver.” They argue that we should not follow Jesus for the sake of the reward, but for some other reason, not named too clearly. (Because it’s the right thing to do? But why do we want to do the right thing? That’s exactly the question at point.)

In fact, it’s not valid to separate our love for Jesus from our love of His effect on us. To love something is to love its effects on yourself. In treasuring either the giver or His gifts, we are acknowledging the great personal value held—for us as individuals. That’s what it means to love something or to hold it precious.

Your “first love” was a love for what Jesus had done for you. To return to your first love, return to loving that blessing. Return to seeing the distinction between your life as it is and as it would have been (Matthew 7:23).

The reward continues to be your motivation when you mature as a Christian. Here are five reasons I believe this:

  • Paul continues to focus on how godliness will profit him with eternal life (1 Timothy 4:8).
  • He eagerly anticipates his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:8, 14).
  • He tells individuals to run to receive the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
  • He works for his own benefit, saying “lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • He loves Jesus because of the reward of life and righteousness that the Lord will give to him in the last day, and to all that “love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Christian, do you want to see the Lord’s goodness? This is His goodness to us: that He saves. To renew your passion for Jesus, renew your passion for eternal life.

Points for discussion:
What does the Gospel of Matthew say about motivation? (See: Why Be Moral?)
Is God self-interested? Does He tell us to be? (See: Why Self-Interest?)