Have you ever wondered what “worship” really means?
Worship is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life. It is absolutely essential that one who claims to walk with God, worships God. However, worship can easily be an ambiguous word that is hard to clearly define.
True worship is a heart posture
Worship is constantly mentioned throughout the Bible. The first instance where the word “worship” occurs is in Genesis 22 when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.
“Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” (Genesis 22:5).
Notice that Abraham equates worship with obedience. He chose to obey the Lord’s command even though it did not make sense to his natural understanding. In the end, Abraham did not kill Isaac, for when he grabbed the knife to kill him, an angel instructed him to not lay a hand on him.
“He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’” (Genesis 22:12).
Again, we see that worship is directly associated with the fear of the Lord, which is obedience.
We’re Living Sacrifices of Worship
There is a place in the Bible where the definition of worship is explicitly given. Romans 12:1 says, “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.” Here we see that worship is defined as offering ourselves as a sacrifice to God, which is synonymous with a lifestyle of obedience.
A similar command is given earlier in Romans, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13).
Worship from the inside out
Offering every part of ourselves as a sacrifice to God cannot be something we do in pretense. This is a heart posture we should have in private as well as public. In our thoughts as well as our external actions. We are called to do this no matter the cost, and solely out of love for God.
Jesus states that it is possible to worship God in pretense when he quotes the prophet Isaiah, “’This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9).
It is not enough to offer ourselves to God in speech or pretentious action. Instead, our whole hearts must be given over to him.
Worship is a lifestyle of obedience to God, but often worship is only associated with the songs we sing at church. There is even a genre within Christian music known as “worship music”. Worship songs are often slow songs of praise to God that highlight his nature. Singing to the Lord is an important part of worship. But that’s not where it ends.
One of the most repeated phrases in the Bible is “praise the Lord”, which is synonymous with songs of praise. Anyone can sing praise to God to go through the motions, but a life of obedience must accompany these songs to truly be worship. Otherwise, they are sung in vain with no heart behind them.
This is clearly seen in Amos 5:23-24 when God says, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
God’s people were offering sacrifices and songs to him that were unacceptable because they were living wickedly. This is why a life of obedience is necessary to ensure that we are singing to God from the heart, and not merely in pretense.
Worship is a life of obedience to God out of a heart of love for him. It can be expressed through songs of praise and immediate adherence to God’s commands.
I challenge you: live in awestruck worship. A worship deeper than the songs you sing or your hands raised high, a worship that invades every aspect of your life in wholehearted obedience to the One we worship.