Of all the possible criticism words that could be leveled against me by someone I love and admire, the most heartbreaking one would be: “I HOLD THIS AGAINST YOU.”

These words could hurt deeply unless guarded by mutual admiration and esteem. These established boundaries, like posts and fences, are love and respect. They protect my soul from unwarranted or cruel criticism. If love and respect are missing, I can treat censorable words like a duck treats water on its back.

Contrarily, love and respect open my mind and heart. They invite me to receive criticism with an intent to take positive action for correction.

Yet, in the Biblical book of The Revelation, we read these words: ‘I HOLD THIS AGAINST YOU” (Rev. 2:4). What would this issue be? The written answer is: “You have left your first love.” Wise Solomon wrote a solution to such abandonment (perhaps because of neglect or taking for granted); that is to “guard your heart” (Prov. 4:23). Put vigilance around it! 

I have found this intentionality is necessary as never before with the perils and hardships of our contemporary world. This means to hold fast to my first love, that of my heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, my Savior, and Lord. Then my life will be filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. It also makes it possible for me to hold fast to my earthly love, the woman I set eyes on at age 19, Susie King.

When my heart takes its last beat, my lungs no longer breathe, and my eyes close for good, may it never be said Fredric James Crowell left his first spiritual love or his first married love.

How about you? My hope is you will not hear: “I hold this against you.”