By Diana LéGere, Crosswalk.com
We are born with an innate need to worship. If we’re not worshiping God, we will worship the idols we’ve carved out for ourselves. For centuries, religions have joined in symbolic worship. Many continue to honor images and the solemn expression of prayer, where God is adored through outward symbols and ritualism.
Some churchgoers today might say that worship is the party before the service. Yes, it’s a celebration of praise, but it’s more than singing songs and lifting our hands. In John 4:23, Jesus shared a startling revelation with the Samaritan woman that worship as she knew it was about to undergo a radical shift. Authentic worship would be spiritual.
As Christians, if our heaven-bound task is worship, we might consider life on earth as on-the-job training. Heavenly focus on the act of worship means there’s more to it than just a weekly check-in with our congregation.
Through Christ, God Himself lives in us and commands our hearts to worship in spirit and truth while in our earthly bodies awaiting our heavenly assignment. Here are five truths the Bible tells us about worship as a way of life:
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1. Worship Acknowledges the Attributes of God
Charles Spurgeon said, "Humbly to tremble before God, to confess sin before Him, to believe Him, to love Him—this is spiritual worship!"
Through worship, we are reminded of our need for God. We act out of our deep yearning to focus on His majesty. When He becomes more, we become less. We recognize that no matter how good we think we are; we fall short.
To adore God, we must give up whatever we revere aside from Him. Too often, we can become the object of our devotion, passions, and what we need and want. To come boldly before the throne of grace, we must let go of sin. Let go of our tendency to live in pride and lust that feeds our flesh.
Giving up sin within the confines of symbolic worship allows us to hang on to a piece because we can always reach out to that ritual again. But true genuine worship requires complete trust in God and letting go of the sin.
Letting go is not giving up on Sunday and Monday, sliding back into our old dangerous habits. It is dropping it and turning away. Worship involves a change in our attitude toward God and sin.
The first and greatest commandment is:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. – Mark 12:30
That leads us to the second truth.
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2. Worship Must Be a Priority
If we love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, He is first in our attention, but more than that, life is centered on Him. Worship is where our relationship gets personal.
The way we worship may look different for all of us. But prioritizing worship means we slow down and give the first part of the day to God. We read in the Bible that Jesus got up early.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35
You might say you aren’t a morning person. I’m not saying you must get up before the rooster crows, but the important thing is to enjoy personal quiet time with God every day before doing anything else. If God created me, it makes sense I ask Him what He wants me to do each day and how He wants me to do it. He becomes first and also the center.
Maybe your morning worship is a long commute to work and time spent in prayer or listening to music while driving. Whatever you do, praying, reading, meditating, or merely resting while spending time with God in the morning sets the pace for the rest of the day. Seek His wisdom. Let your Creator direct your steps. God knows how it will end before it even starts.
Jesus frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray and made it a priority to engage in quality alone time with His Father.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful, and thankful. – Colossians 4:2
Next, let’s examine our hearts.
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3. Worship Is an Outward Expression of the Heart
Our heart is an incubator, nurturing all things, including worship. Bible wisdom tells us the heart is deceitful. Perhaps only to ourselves. Our actions prove or discredit a lot of things we say.
Matthew 15:8 says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
The motive of our heart is the basis for everything we do for God and others. God is seeking those with a sincere heart. It is a genuine experience, or God counts it as nothing. We can't be a little sincere. We either are, or we are not. Luke 6:45 explains, “Out of the overflow of the mouth, the heart speaks.”
Mary and Martha are a beautiful example of worshipping from the heart. Mary showed her act of worship by sitting at the feet of Jesus and carefully hanging onto every word her Master spoke. Meanwhile, Martha toiled in the kitchen to prepare a feast. Jesus said:
Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about so many things, but few things are needed -or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her. – Luke 10:41-42
We must align our lips and hearts. We prove our hearts by what we do, and genuine worship authenticates our faith. Jesus doesn’t want believers busy doing things for Him. He wants us to spend time with Him so that He can transform our hearts. Others will see a heart bathed in the light of Jesus as a reflection of His character and image.
What else does worship look like?
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4. Worship Is Surrender
Surrendering to God is accepting there may be things we do not understand and may not like about our life—but we realize that God is in control, and God is good. All the time.
We acknowledge God's holiness by the way we approach the good and the difficult seasons of our life. We accept the things we cannot understand without anger and bitterness. Surrender to the Almighty is worship. When we lay down our plans, we offer God a life that allows Him to guide our thoughts, words, and actions.
When we surrender, we die to ourselves so we can be instruments of righteousness living for God’s will. Worship requires us to lay down our desire to conform to the world. We have a choice to make. We can live unto the Lord, or we can live unto ourselves.
Worship is less me and more Jesus. That means honoring God by thinking more about others than ourselves. We concede to another rather than ranting to get our way. It means even when we have the authority to have it our way, we may let it go.
We surrender our lives by living more intentionally. Resolute to God and His promises. We bring glory to God by the way we live out our days.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. – Romans 12:1
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5. Worship Is How We Live for God in Every Moment
God created us for His pleasure. The Bible says that He delights over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). God created us to worship. He doesn’t need sacrifices. That is why He offered Himself as a sacrificial lamb once and for all.
In return, God wants us to be a living sacrifice. Our spiritual worship is demonstrated in how we live our lives. Worship helps us to see a clear picture of the world through God’s eyes. How will we live our lives for others? How do we use the resources in which God has blessed us?
The Bible tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). If we don't do what we say we believe, we don't believe it. If we worship with our mouth, but our actions don't follow, it's a ritual, not worship.
The worship God wants is for us to live a holy life. Not a perfect life, but a separated life. Set aside to be used by God for His purposes. True worship is living a life of love. It’s staying true to a moral standard. Without this, we can't operate out of love, and where there is no love, there can be no worship.
Worship encompasses everything and is balanced on love for God and others. We worship when we forgive those who have offended us. It’s the way we respond to those who can do nothing for us. It's the appreciation we give for the smallest gestures.
It's honor and respect—appreciation for life, the world, our blessings, gratitude, and thankfulness for each day.
True worship is demonstrated in how we live each day when no one is looking.
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