come back to the heart of worship. 

***oroginally published on Whole Magazine March 13, 2015***

This year, instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided in my heart that I wanted to discover what I am passionate about and what makes me so, and to pursue knowledge, wisdom, and service in those things. So far, the Lord has led me to a few things: marriage, writing, photography/art, community, Godly and Biblical femininity, and worship (as musical form specifically).

As I have begun to explore these things in my study and in prayer, God has shown up in some incredible ways to teach me and lead me down the road that I believe He’s intended for me. The way He met up with me and instructed me in one of these areas though – worship – has stopped me in my tracks.

I love praise and worship. It is honestly, my favorite part of our church service most days. It allows us an unique experience to reach out to our God and give Him praise and love in such an expressive and free way. I mean, I wish my life could be a musical and I could just bust out into song whenever the mood struck me, but it might scare a few of my co-workers! But at church or when I worship musically at home, I am free to raise my hands and raise my voice up to the One who saved me without fear or shame.

Beyond that, I think music fits somewhere into my love language. I generally love singing and making music – even just listening to music has the ability to change a day for me. (I know I’m not alone, so hopefully there is a few other sisters out there offering an AMEN and think of their favorite worship songs!)

So when our pastor challenged us to consider the word “worship” in the Bible, I was definitely expecting music references for sure, as well as references regarding our posture or attitude toward the Lord as Lord, but I definitely got a little more than I expected.

During the Nativity scene in Matthew 2, we learn of the how the wise men came to discover Jesus:

After this interview (with King Herod) the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child (Jesus) was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11 NLT *emphasis my own)

In the Greek text of this verse, the word for “worshipped” is “proskyneo.” This word, proskyneo, is defined as “to kiss the hand toward one in token and in reverence, to kiss like a dog licking his master’s hand.” You see, what these men understood that I believe most of us do not is that worship isn’t at all about the things that you’re doing necessarily. It is about making yourself less. “To kiss like a dog licking his master’s hand” almost implies that this is somewhat degrading, does it not? It is acknowledging His worthiness, His holiness, and just how undeserving we are of His love and grace.

Music, song, writing, creative expressions, or however else we are worshipping our God are not really the worship in and of themselves. They are merely expressions of our worship. The gifts the wise men offered to Jesus were in response to their worship, but the gifts were not their worship. Our worship is acted out in our service. Here are two different translations of Romans 12:1 to consider:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present you bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJV)

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. (ESV)

In these two texts, worship and service are used synonymously because our service and the offering of ourselves and our gifts to the Church as a body and to the hurting people of this broken world is our expression of worship. All that we offer to those around us, especially to the least of these, we do unto Christ Himself.

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40 NLT)

So if our service is an expression of our worship, then what is our worship? What I have found is that there is a root to all worship in every one of its forms and expressions, and that is HUMILITY.

As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are on earth. So let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 NLT)

We must become less so that He may become more (John 3:30). Worship, like the dog licking its master’s hand, is to love the One who gives us everything, and that we come to Him in reverence and humility to serve Him respectfully. This quote from Oswald Chambers embodies this beautifully:

“Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occasion for the Spirit of God to manifest His power.”

When we humble ourselves before the Lord, it will allow all the more room for Him to work through us in service. But it starts with humility. Matthew 23:12 also points to this, teaching us that those who humble themselves before God will be exalted. He will work great things through those who are modest and unassuming before Him.

Please take time with me today as you read through these two scriptures, to pause and meditate on His word and ask the Lord where we may need to be humbled in our hearts, where we may be coming to Him with too lofty an attitude, where we may be using too many words, and where we may need to acknowledge our weakness in worship. And once that’s been revealed in us, let us ask God to reveal His power in us in those areas, for it is in that where God delights to show His glory!

Although He (Jesus) was crucified in weakness, He now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with Him and will have God’s power. (2 Corinthians 13:4 NLT)

Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

And one last thing I would like to share with you, sisters, is a song written a time ago by Matt Redman (if you’ve never heard of him, you’ve likely heard his worship songs), after a dry and empty season at his home church in England, which led the pastor to strip the worship set of the band and sound system and rely completely on voices alone.

Pastor Mike Pilavachi asked his congregation, “When you come through the doors on Sunday, what are you bringing as an offering to God?” As in, how are you displaying or expressing your worship. They wanted to cultivate people who worshiped humbly, not consumers of entertaining worship. And the following song is the result of the reflection and experience of Matt Redman on that particular season in the late 1990’s. You can read more about this story here, and you can listen to the song here.

Be blessed sisters. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NIV)

Original publication:

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