What is Worship?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines worship as such: to honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power; to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion. The English word worship is derived from the term worth ship. As it pertains to our Christian faith and the Biblical standard, genuine worship requires that we honor and reverence God above all else. Worship is placing the worth of God on display. God’s value, His worth is infinite.

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. (Deuteronomy 6:45, AMP)

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble [in submissive wonder] before Him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9, AMP)

Upon entering Samaria, Jesus exhausted from His travels, rested at the well of Jacob and had His notable encounter with a woman there. He said:

You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews. A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality). (John 4:22-4, AMPC)

This description is in stark contrast to His characterization of the Pharisees in Matthew 15:

So by this you have invalidated the word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect] for the sake of your tradition [handed down by the elders]. You hypocrites (play-actors, pretenders), rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. ‘But in vain do they worship Me, For they teach as doctrines the precepts of men.’” (6-9, AMPC)

Pastor Adrian Rogers said: “…to be pure in heart really means to have an undivided heart, a heart that is unmixed, like metal without alloy, or milk that’s undiluted. It means singleness of mind, the issues of life brought down to one burning focus, concentrated in my devotion to Jesus Christ. It means loving Him, serving Him, desiring Him with a pure heart.”

The authenticity of one’s worship is determined by the posture of your heart and the accuracy of your knowledge of who God is. John Piper communicated this truth aptly when he said, “if we worship an idol of our own creation, we are not really worshiping God. The inner essence of worship is the response of the heart to the knowledge of the mind when the mind is rightly understanding God and the heart is rightly valuing God.”

Does The Bible provide concrete guidance on what constitutes authentic worship? Of course, it does; the question was intended to be rhetorical.

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:15-6, AMPC)

The word sacrifice in this text is reminiscent of the sacrifices made in the Old Testament; the animal brought to be slaughtered was a physical expression of the esteem and value placed on God. This display was an act of worship.

Now even the first covenant had its own rules and regulations for divine worship, and it had a sanctuary [but one] of this world. But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come. [Then] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with [human] hands, that is, not a part of this material creation, He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us). (Hebrews 9:1, 11-2, AMPC)

After the death and resurrection of Christ, His sacrifice brought redemption. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death, there are now two worshipful sacrifices in our lives: the fruit of our lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name, and the fruit of our deeds in service to others.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, AMPC)

Our spiritual worship consists of our offering ourselves to God as holy, acceptable living sacrifices. We pursue holiness because we want to offer to the Lord that which is pure. We seek to understand God’s will for worship so that our praise is acceptable and offered according to His prescriptions. By the grace of God and for the sake of His glory we offer ourselves to Him unreservedly, daily. Our daily lives lived in love for others, displaying the worth of God above all else makes us worshipers perpetually.

Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. (Ephesians 5:1-2, AMP)

Every activity we undertake should be done in such a way that God is consistently honored. Our worship of God should be infused into every area of our lives.

So then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of [our great] God. (I Corinthians 10:31, AMP)

Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve. (Colossians 3:23-4, AMP)

This blog is an act of worship. With every keystroke, this is my earnest prayer:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, immovable] rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, AMP)

Worship is a command, but it is also an enormous privilege. Daily I am reminded that everyday is a gift; we live simply by the grace and mercy of God. We were called to honor and praise the only one deserving. In fact we were created to worship:

The people whom I formed for Myself will make known My praise. (Isaiah 43:21, AMP)

As we worship, acknowledging the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of Our God, we are humbled by our own frailty and imperfection. This inspires gratitude as we mature in our relationship with Christ.

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