Why Do I Worship?

Graceway MediaNot long ago I was reading from Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘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’” (ESV). After reading these verses, I spent most of the day examining my own worship to see if there were any part of me that was merely honoring God with my words, but my heart was far from Him.

When I arrived home from work that evening, the first words out of my wife’s mouth were, “You didn’t call me today!” She was not angry, but surprised. You see, after years of marriage she is accustomed to my calling, emailing, or texting her several times a day to see how she is doing, say “I love you,” and just to talk for a few minutes. So, it was very unusual for me not to contact her in any way for a whole day.

Without any explanation I quickly replied, “Do you want me to call you because I love and miss you, or because I feel guilty for not calling you all day?” Understandably, she was shocked at first, then hurt, and finally a bit concerned. She asked, “Do you ever call me out of guilt and not out of love?” I quickly assured her that it is because of my love that I call her almost every day, and that it had just been one crazy, eventful day at work. Then I talked with her about my Bible study that morning (Matt. 15:7-9). I had asked her the question, not to be a jerk, but to see her reaction to the thought that I might just be honoring her with my lips and not my heart. We want our spouse to love us, long for us, and be honest with us. My comment left her wondering, “Is he faking his love for me, and if so, for how long?”

Shirley’s reaction and the following conversation made both of us stop and reconsider our daily acts of worshipping God. Is my quiet time, which consists of prayer and Bible study, just something I cross off the list each day to feel better about myself spiritually? Do I listen for God during quiet time or just hurry through it? When attending a worship service, am I more concerned about how long it takes, what I have to do after church, or how it affects me more than lifting up praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the One who died for me? Am I just going through the motions of what is expected? Is my spirituality a mask I put on to play a certain part when I am around my Christian friends or at church?

None of these “spiritual activities” are true worship. Jesus has commanded us, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Just as we would be offended at someone faking their feelings for us to get something they wanted, so is God! Worship, Bible study, church, living a righteous life, and obeying God’s commands are not things we do to keep from angering God. These good things are not to be practiced so that He will give us everything on our wish list of wants, needs, and desires. Worship is giving to God what He deserves. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Christians should reflect the character, attributes, love, and holiness of God. We don’t do it because of what we might get, but because the Spirit of God resides in us and that is who we are in Christ.

I don’t want to live a hypocritical life. I don’t want worship to be out of guilt or something I do for my benefit.  I want my worship driven by an insatiable thirst for God’s glory, honor, and praise. I want my worship to be the direct result of who I am in Christ. I want my worship to be something I live out every minute of every day. I want my worship to be sincere, honest, and from a heart of love!

Take time today to read Matthew 15:7-9 and examine your motives for worship.

Without Wax

http://gracewaymedia.com/_Journey_with_Jesus_b-5731.htmlWords are more interesting than any puzzle. Sometimes the history of a word opens up a window on the habits and customs of a past generation. The common english word “butcher,” for example, takes us  back through the French “boucher,” when “bouc” or goat meat was the chief meat on the diet.

Few words, however, have a more interesting lineage than the word “sincere.” Among the theories advanced to explain this word is the one that sees its derivation from “sine”—without, and “cera”—wax. In the ancient Roman world a sculptor sometimes chipped off too large a piece from the marble. Rather than begin his work over again, he used wax to fasten the piece back onto the image. This would stand the temporary test and the sale would be made, but soon the fraud would show up. It became necessary, in drawing up contracts with sculptors, to insert the word “sinecera”—without wax.

The Greek word used in the classics and in the New Testament to express the idea of sincerity comes from the word meaning “sunlight” and to “unfold.” When a product was examined in the clear light of the sun and found to be pure and unsullied, it was “sincere.”

In the light of these meanings, what vigor is to be found in Paul’s prayer for the Philippians. “That ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Jesus Christ”—that ye may be without fraud, unfolded in the sunlight.

The natural man loves darkness rather than light—loves his own opinions rather than God’s revelation (John 3:19). David Nelson indicated, a century ago, that one small, cunningly-devised falsehood will influence the natural man more than one hundred plain and forcible arguments in favor of revelation. It is when a man is born again that he loves light and truth rather than darkness, and can live in a sincere way, that is, without fraud, and unfolded in God’s sunlight. (Donald Grey Barnhouse)

Source: Timeless Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching by Donald Grey Barnhouse, 406.