(Take time to think about the title)
Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” Matt.4:10. He further stated, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” Jn.4:24. An inspired writer later wrote, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” Heb.12:28. These verses teach the necessity of rendering proper worship and reverence to God. When was the last time you really thought about the manner in which you worship God? Have you considered the difference between worship and reverence? Some may worship God who do not reverence Him. Such are described in Matt.15:7-9 and Col.2:20-23. Reverence is a requisite to true worship, and without it our worship is unacceptable to God. Note that our worship must be “in spirit” (reverence) and “in truth” (service). Let’s take time to examine some thoughts concerning worship and reverence toward God. Even though the thoughts in this article will be directed primarily toward the public worship services in our assemblies many of them are also applicable in our private worship to God.
Before one can properly worship God, one must come prepared to do so. Attending the services should not be seen as a matter of habit or burden of duty. It should be viewed as an opportunity to get away from the world and into contact with God and our fellow Christians. Proper worship begins by preparing the heart for worship, “for as one thinks in his heart, so is he” Prov.23:7. It is written that Ezra prepared his heart “to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it …” Ezra 7:10. God gave the children of Israel a day of preparation before the Passover Matt.27:62; Jn.19:14. Today, many come to the worship services totally unprepared to worship God. Their heart is not ready. They come in late, leave early, with the mind fixed on other things. Is this showing reverence for God? When Peter came to the house of Cornelius to teach him the Word of God, Cornelius exclaimed, “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” Acts 10:33. Is this why you came today? Outward signs are indications of inward feelings. One that gives scant attention during the singing, praying, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and the lesson is not prepared to offer proper reverence and worship to God for they reflect the attitude of an unprepared heart. If God were present would you act that way? He is, you know! Matt.18:20.
The way some approach the worship of God is described by the prophet Malachi. He indicates what happens when people worship God with a lack of reverence. “But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘O what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it” Mal.1:12-13. The “weariness” with which these people worshipped God is so characteristic of many today. They do not have their heart in it, nor do they demonstrate much faith in what they are doing as they go through the motions. Malachi, speaking for God asked, “If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence …? Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised You?’ By saying, ‘the table of the Lord is contemptible’ “ Mal.1:6-7. With this attitude, Malachi cried, “O for someone among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,’ says the Lord of Hosts” v.10.
A loss of spiritual appetite contributes to the attitude of “weariness” in worshipping God. People who no longer desire to be fed spiritual food will not find much comfort in worship. A desire to be somewhere else also produces “weariness” in worship. Some find it difficult to sit two or three hours in church services, but have no trouble spending twice that amount of time at some sporting event or on the lake fishing, or some similar activity. Some can’t even make it one hour on Sunday. Some have this “weariness” because they know they are not doing their best. Like the people in Malachi’s day they are not offering the best they have. Dear reader, I hope this is not your attitude.
Another thought concerning worship to God is the casual way it is approached by some. Because of a pre-occupation with the casual, informal lifestyle and a desire to be comfortable, some have developed a flippant attitude toward God and His word. I am not advocating mere formality and ritualism, for we have already seen one must first reverence God from the heart before proper worship can be performed. Yet, we should give some consideration to the way we dress and act. I have observed in places that some dress in attire they would not wear to a funeral or a wedding, or some business interview. A tie is not required to serve the Lord, but one should give some thought to appearance when we approach Him. Are the clothes you wear when you come to worship and serve God of little concern? Do we not sometimes reflect the importance of an event by the way we dress? A fellow preacher told me of an occasion where one came to the services wearing a tee-shirt with a large beer can emblazoned on front. Who do we dress to please? Casualness seems to reflect more on an effort to please self than God. We seek to make things convenient, comfortable and unrestrained so that little will be expected of us. We need to know that God is the object of our service, and it is His approval we should be seeking 2.Tim.2:15. God knows our hearts, we cannot deceive Him.
After we realize that our worship must be reverential to be proper, we will come with a prepared heart ready to be participants and not spectators. In this way we not only receive, we give of ourselves to others. Some say, “I’ve quit attending services because I don’t get anything out of it.” The reason for this is, they haven’t given anything to others. If we come only with an attitude of what we can get we will in the end get nothing. When we share our blessings and privileges with others all benefit. Assembling to worship is not just getting some people together, it’s a matter of getting hearts, minds, and needs together, so that all are prepared to reverence and worship God.
By Thomas Thornhill via the Buckhorn Teacher vol.8 no.2, June 14,2009
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