Nineteenth century poet William Bell Scott wrote Maryanne, a poem telling the story of a boy and girl growing up in the country side professing their love for one another. As the years passed, the girl cast longing eyes to the city and left the country and the boy behind to marry herself to high society.
Her new love lured her into the sewers of sin, staining the purity of her past with the prostitution of her present. While she loved the promises of Victorian society, she was crushed by its reality. Then, one day the young farmer found her in the city. He reached out and took her hand speaking his undying love.
Scott’s friend and artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, immortalized their reunion in his painting Found (1854). He shows the determination of the young man proclaiming his love to the woman who left. His simple clothes betray a farmer’s existence and clash with the gaudy attire and painted face of a society prostitute. At his words, she turns away, lamenting that she let another love—the infatuation of society—take his place.
Love is this deep emotional attachment that links the stoniest hearts to something. The miser loves his money. The harlot loves her wages. The murderer loves his power. Few hearts exist without love.
Even though Rossetti’s country girl left her first love, her heart filled with another love. When Jesus warned the Ephesians, they had “lost their first love,” it wasn’t just that their love for him was gone, but that it had also been replaced by something else (Rev. 2:4). Maybe it was love for high society, or family and friends. Possibly their love turned to money, popularity, or personal ambition. Whatever it was, it vanquished their love for Jesus.
Hearts do not remain empty. As the love for one thing leaks out, something else takes its place. Therefore, the best protection against sin is a heart overflowing with a love for God, his church, and his word because it leaves little room for the love of other things.
Consider what your heart overflows with. While it may be filled with the love for God today, is there something that threatens to replace God? Each of us must protect the love we have for God.