Read His Words Before Ours!
“Let us praise the Lord when we feel like it.”
“True worshipers will worship the Father with great emotion.”
Neither of these statements are Biblically accurate. As I review them, they sound ridiculous. Yet, they reflect how we often approach worship. To gain a better understanding of worship pleasing to God, let’s consider what Scripture says.
“Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Continually means we don’t stop when times are dark or our hearts are broken. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Rejoice always.”
“But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
The only requirement for worship I see here is “in spirit and in truth.” How many of us know sometimes truth is hard, so worship born out of truth may not feel like “the great experience?”
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Two simple things, right? But Scripture tells us praise is sacrificial. Echoing Hebrews 13:15, Romans 12:1 instructs, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” In other words, we should use our bodies to serve and honor God in an act of complete surrender. We should be set apart for Him, dedicated to Him. After all, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 145:3, ESV)
In the Bible, we learn of Samson, a man dedicated to the Lord as a Nazarite from birth. Samson was one of God’s appointed judges for the Israelites. He could have demonstrated true worship. But Samson was self-absorbed, more into pleasing himself than committed to pleasing God.
He married a Philistine woman against his father’s better judgment because it “seemed right to Samson.” (Judges 14:1-7)
He didn’t tell his parents the honey he gave them came from the carcass of a lion he killed with his bare hands because, again, it seemed right to him to hide his broken vow. (Judges 14:5-9)
He killed thirty Philistines to fulfill a bet with the Philistine men, which was dishonest. (Judges 14:10-20)
He burned up the Philistine crops, vineyards, and olive groves because he thought revenge was the way to go. (Judges 15:1-5)
When Samson fell in love with Delilah, another Philistine woman, he revealed the secret to his great strength (his long uncut hair) because in the moment, stopping her nagging was more important than honoring his vow to God. (Judges 16:1-17)
She then shared that knowledge with her people and they shaved his hair, removing the last remnant of his Nazarite vow. And the Spirit of the Lord left him without him even realizing it. (Judges 16:18-20) Samson was so caught up in what felt right to him that he failed to remain set apart for the Lord. He failed to worship by using his body to serve and honor God, because his focus was not on God.
In the same way, if we get caught up in whether we like a song or not, whether the prayer or sermon “moves” us or not, we’re missing the point and aren’t offering true worship. Instead, we’re chasing our delights versus delighting ourselves in the Lord. Samson was called to devote his life to God. Would that he was more like the prophet Isaiah, who saw a vision of the Lord on His throne with the Seraphim singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth,” recognized his sinfulness, confessed before the Lord, and then spent the rest of his life in holy service to God.
Samson’s focus on his experience and desires over honoring his Nazarite vow to God reminds me of a passage in Amos chapter 5. Speaking through Amos, God rightfully accuses the Israelites of going through the motions. Yes, they assemble and offer the mandated sacrifices, but what of their hearts’ true intent and desire?
It was toward themselves, not God.
But God is faithful. God gave Samson another chance. While in captivity, “his hair began to grow back.” In chains, Philistines mocking him during their pagan worship service, he prayed for God to give him the strength to avenge his eyes, which they had gouged out. While Samson remained focused on self to the end, God still showed His faithfulness by giving Samson the strength to topple the building. (Judges 16:25-30)
Similarly, we are called to be sacrificial in our worship of the Lord. While Samson struggled to worship God above self for most of his life, in that one moment, he was willing to lay down his life. We might not be asked to die for the Lord, but we are asked to daily die to ourselves, our comfort.
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” (Psalm 51:17)
Sisters, let us offer our Great God true worship,
a heart humbled before Him
and a life surrendered to Him.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!