For many of us, worship consists of what we do when we come together once or twice a week. We have this worship broken down into five formal acts – singing, praying, teaching, communion, and contribution. This is not all worship is, however. Worship is also something that should be happening outside the walls of your congregation. We have to understand more about worship if we are going to live worshipful lives.
Worship from the Heart
The Greek word for worship literally means to prostrate one’s self, to bow down. The English root is “worth-ship.” It is something we do, not because we are commanded or because we get something out of it, but rather we worship because God is worthy. True worship will indeed build us up as we draw closer to God, but our worship centers on Him first and foremost.
We know John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jesus says this in context of a question about the proper place of worship. Jesus says worship is from within. In Mark 12:28-31, Jesus says the greatest of the commandments is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. It is a love we carry with us everywhere and at all times. It is not constrained to a specific time and location.
Worship in Our Lives
Amos 5:21-24 outlines God condemning acts of worship that are following the prescribed pattern. They were doing what was commanded, so why was God not pleased? Isaiah 1:11-17 repeats this condemnation, telling the people that their lives did not match their worship. They came and went through the steps of worship while living in a way that invalidated that worship. Today, we can be guilty of the same if our lives do not lift God up in worshipful living.
Real worship is a life devoted to our God. Without that form of worship coming daily from us, our assembled worship means little. Hebrews 13:15-16 says,
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Our lives should be sacrifices of praise, doing good to others, giving of ourselves for the sake of others, defending and helping those in need, living prayerfully – all of these things constitute worship. It is a surrendering of our lives to God in all places and at all times.
In Romans 12:1-2:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
To live sacrificially, we have to remove the world from our hearts while we live that life among the world. We are transformed, putting our former selves to death, worshiping God from a well that comes from within. Hebrews 12:1-2 calls on us to lay aside the weights of this world in our lives, and verses 12-15 then instruct us to strengthen those around us, to live peacefully, to live morally, to lift the fallen. This is the acceptable worship spoken of in verse 28.
Examples of Worshipful Living
David exemplifies worshipful living in Psalm 51, calling on God for forgiveness. He not only asks to be forgiven, but David asks God to make his life pure and a life of praise. He knows sacrifices and offerings are not enough, and David calls a humble and softened heart the true sacrifice God desires. Back in Mark 12, the scribe who asked Jesus about worship understand this, and Jesus commends him, saying the scribe is near to the kingdom.
Philippians 1:19-20 records Paul saying that Christ will be honored in him in life or death, and verse 27 encourages us to make our lives worthy of the gospel. Chapter 4:18 calls the generosity of the church in Philippi a sacrifice acceptable before God. Ephesians 5:1-2 uses these same terms to describe walking in love, and Paul goes on to describes what such a life looks like – free of immorality, free of covetousness, free of deceit. He calls on us to walk as children of light, to walk with care and wisdom, using our time wisely and forever giving thanks to God and living humbly before Him and others.
lesson by Dawson Guyer