Read His Words Before Ours!
When I consider the coming of Christ and the events leading up to his birth, I am stunned and drawn in by the response of the key players in the narrative. Mary, a young girl who seems to come out of nowhere, yet who is clearly chosen by God, responds to the angel’s news with courage, (despite initial fear), humility, and trust.
How is this response possible?
Did she understand what this meant?
Why don’t we see her falling apart or self-pitying?
How was she able to enter into this narrative with ease of heart, and go on to proclaim through song her worship of Yahweh God?
If I dare imagine myself in Mary’s place, I cannot with confidence say I would have the same response. In my sin tendencies, I am focused on myself, my anxieties, and my desires.
My prayers and songs might have been more lament in nature than praise and worship. The same might be true of you.
We may wonder if our faith would live up to a big moment like this or hope that we’d have an ounce of the same kind of courage.
But are our responses of worship just a game of emotional Russian Roulette, never knowing where our hearts will land? Or are there postures God plants in us along the way that prepare the course of our heart’s worship?
Mary’s story in Luke chapter one gives us insight into her heart of worship and how God can prepare ours as well.
Where Worship Begins: Position
When Mary was given the seemingly impossible news that she would carry the Son of God, she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) This simple but poignant statement reveals two things, 1) Mary already knew her position before Almighty God and 2) she humbly placed herself under His authority.
Psalm 111:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.”
This is how humility is born and stoked in a human heart.
When we rightly see God for who He is (I Chronicles 29:11-13), we will rightly see ourselves for who we are (Romans 9:20-21).
The result is a holy humility that not only understands, but embraces His will.
How Worship is Sustained: Belief
Another foundational layer of Mary’s heart is revealed when Elizabeth says of her, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!”. (Luke 1:45) Mary chose to believe God’s faithfulness.
He does what He says He will do!
Her position of humility was bolstered by trusting God, not her own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 warns us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;”.
The temptation to rely on our own understanding of circumstances, timing of events, brokenness in life, and even God’s own Word, can drive us mad and self-centered.
True worship is sustained in the recesses of our hearts by continually turning to the promises of God and His proven faithfulness.
How Worship is Proclaimed: Praise
Mary’s heart spills out through song in Luke 1:46-55. Traditionally called The Magnificat, Latin for “my soul magnifies the Lord”, we have a picture of Mary’s mouth pointing like an arrow to what her heart knew all along.
In verses 46-49, she points us to what God has done for her personally.
She is quick to say that HE has done these things, that she will be called blessed because THE MIGHTY ONE HAS DONE great things for her, and that HIS NAME IS HOLY.
There’s not an ounce here of self-exaltation.
Verses 50-53 point to God’s authority over all the earth. Mary sings of His mercy, might, provision, strength, omniscience, sovereignty, grace and justice.
She is not consumed with God’s work in her singular life.
She knows that God is over all, in all, and she is one portion of a more magnificent display of His full glory.
The last section of Mary’s song, verses 54-55, shows that she is no stranger to the Old Testament Scriptures. She knew well the promise given to Abraham and how it would be a mercy for all of Israel. This circles back around to the sustenance of Mary’s worship: belief in the promises of God. She recalled what she already believed, and proclaimed that the fulfillment of this promise was happening within her own womb, for the good of all mankind.
The Same Attitude as Christ
Mary’s heart posture foreshadowed the very attitude that Jesus Himself would have. The One whom she was carrying, had been teaching her how to be carried beyond herself to a place of humble obedience that exalts God and brings every knee to bow before Him. Philippians 2:6-11 expresses the cosmic mash-up of God cloaked in flesh.
Christ embraced a position that lead to His humility as He laid aside privilege, power, and rights. He believed the Father’s plan, stepping into limitations that we might live, into pain for our joy, and into obedience for the ultimate magnification of God.
Oh Father, create in us a holy humility that believes in your promises so we might respond in worshipful proclamation of who You are and what You have done!
Lead us into ever deeper worship!
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!