Reverence For God, Worship Toward God, or Both
(Take time to think about the title)
Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” Matt.4:10. He further stated, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” Jn.4:24. Another inspired writer wrote, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” Heb.12:28. These verses teach the necessity of rendering proper worship and reverence to God. When was the last time you really thought about the manner in which you worship God? Have you considered the difference between worship and reverence? Some may worship God, who do not reverence (revere, respect, honor) Him. Their worship is outward formalism, not inward, from the heart. Such worship is described in Matt.15:7-9 and Col.2:20-23. Reverence is a requisite to true worship, and without it our worship is unacceptable to God. Note that our worship must be “in spirit” (reverence) and “in truth” (service). Let’s take time to examine some thoughts concerning worship and reverence toward God. Even though the thoughts in this article will be directed primarily toward the public worship services in our assemblies many of them are also applicable in our private worship to God.
Before one can properly worship God, one must come prepared to do so. Attending the services should not be seen as a matter of habit or burden of duty. It should be viewed as an opportunity to get away from the world and into contact with God and our fellow Christians. Proper worship begins by preparing the heart for worship, “for as one thinks in his heart, so is he” Prov.23:7. It is written that Ezra prepared his heart “to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it …” Ezra 7:10. God gave the children of Israel a day of preparation before the Passover Matt.27:62; Jn.19:14. Today, many come to the public worship services totally unprepared to worship God. Their heart is not ready. They come in late, leave early, with the mind fixed on other things. Is this showing reverence for God? When Peter came to the house of Cornelius to teach him the Word of God, Cornelius exclaimed, “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” Acts 10:33. When you assemble, is this the reason? Outward signs are indications of inward feelings. One that gives scant attention during the singing, praying, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and the lesson is not prepared to offer proper reverence and worship to God for they reflect the attitude of an unprepared heart. If God were present would you act that way? He is, you know! Matt.18:20.
The way some approach the worship of God is described by the prophet Malachi. He indicates what happens when people worship God with a lack of reverence. “But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘O what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it” Mal.1:12-13. The “weariness” with which these people worshipped God is so characteristic of many today. They do not have their heart in it, nor do they demonstrate much faith in what they are doing as they go through the motions. Malachi, speaking for God asked, “If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence …? Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised You?’ By saying, ‘the table of the Lord is contemptible’ “ Mal.1:6-7. With this attitude, Malachi cried, “O for someone among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,’ says the Lord of Hosts” v.10.
A loss of spiritual appetite contributes to the attitude of “weariness” in worshipping God. People who no longer desire to be fed spiritual food will not find much comfort in worship. A desire to be somewhere else also produces “weariness” in worship. Some find it difficult to sit two or three hours in church services, but have no trouble spending twice that amount of time at some sporting event or on the lake fishing, or some similar activity. Some can’t even make it one hour on Sunday. Some have this “weariness” because they know they are not doing their best. Like the people in Malachi’s day they are not offering the best they have. Dear reader, I hope this is not your attitude.
After we realize that our worship must be reverential to be proper, we will come with a prepared heart ready to be participants and not spectators. In this way we not only receive, we give of ourselves to others. Some say, “I’ve quit attending services because I don’t get anything out of it.” The reason for this is, they haven’t given anything to others. If we come only with an attitude of what we can get we will in the end get nothing. When we share our blessings and privileges with others all benefit. Assembling to worship is not just getting some people together, it’s a matter of getting hearts, minds, and needs together, so that all are prepared to reverence and worship God. We ought to be able to say with David; “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Ps.122:1.