Why do we worship and how do we worship? Do we worship the Lord as a form of thanksgiving to Him for the blessings that He has given us, or do we worship God simply because of who He is and how much He loves us? Many of us do this at times of success and in every happy moment, but do we worship God during times of afflictions, failures, and in times of sorrow and pain?
Worshiping the Lord comes from the heart. It’s a heart issue. There is no correct way to worship, but there is a wrong way of worshiping, like during the time when the Jews were delivered from slavery from Egypt, and Moses was told to go up the mountain. The Jews couldn’t wait long enough for Moses to come back down, so they made their own god by molding a golden calf which they use to symbolize their god so they can worship Him and thank him for saving them. This was an insult to God, for none of God’s creations can ever replace God. While giving thanks to the Lord is part of worshiping God, the Jews were not actually worshiping God but His creation. God is greater than any being and forms of heavens up in the sky, for He created all that we see.
The golden calf in today’s world symbolizes anything that we hold most dear. It can be money, power, drugs, alcohol, sex, your girlfriend, any loved one, or anything that are most important to us. These person or persons or things that we tend to give more importance than God are false idols.
To Jonah, justice was everything. He valued his principle more than anything. Jonah relented God’s forgiving and loving way, that to him, God’s act of forgiving the sinful Ninevites who repented seemed very wrong. Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites to repent of their evil ways and be saved. However, Jonah was made to realize the errors of his heart, and in obedience to God’s command, Jonah proclaimed God’s message in Nineveh. The Ninevites did repent and they were saved.
While it’s true that the Lord is so loving and gracious to us, slow to anger and abounding in love, and a God who relents from sending calamity, our God is also a jealous God. Exodus 20:1-6 states, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
It is important that we know who or what we really worship so that we may correct the errors of our heart.
Tithing is part of worshiping God. When we give tithes or give church offerings, do we give out of guilt, out of feeling of being obligated, or do we give because we feel it’s the right thing to do, and out of the desire to give His portion back, as an offering of thanksgiving?
James 1:17 states, “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” When you give tithes, you are not actually giving, but returning what is God’s.
Deuteronomy 26:1-10 states, “When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, ‘Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.’ When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.’ You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God.”
Note that the bible clearly states “you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.”
Many of us give tithes/church offerings in a different way. Most of us give only what’s remaining in our wallet or left-overs or table scraps, figuratively speaking. If we really worship the Lord, we should abide by His teachings, for it is He who provided us with what we have right now. Everything good that we experience comes from him. It is but right to give Him the best of what we have. 10% is the standard practice back in the old biblical days. It’s a conservative figure, but God surely deserves it. “10% of gross of 10% after taxes?”, most people would ask. Well, would you rather receive blessings in gross or after taxes? It is really what is in your heart that tells you how much you should give. A true Christian would even give more than 10%, as much as he could afford to give back, just to share his blessings with others for God’s greater purpose.
Isaiah 29:13 states, “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;”
Same thing is stated but this time from Jesus’s own lips: “The people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.”
What our Lord is trying to say is we pray, and we pray a lot. However, Jesus does not live in our hearts. Our hearts are tainted with selfish desires and deceitful ways. Knowing what is right, we should practice what we hear and learn in churches, and not just nod in church and do the opposite out in the public. We should be true to our heart, and our heart should only be to our Lord and His ways, and nothing else and no one else.
Remember the three parables of Jesus, including the parable of the Vineyard? The first parable Jesus teaches tells the priests that they have claimed to accept the message from God but they have failed to live up to it by being obedient. Outwardly, they are pious and appear to be people of God, but God knows the heart, and there they have failed miserably. The next parable (the Parable of the Vineyard) is like pouring salt on a wound. Just in case they didn’t fully understand (which they did), Jesus gives a much clearer picture of what He means. Obviously, this further infuriates the priests, but it also gives the others who were present an opportunity to hear Jesus fully explain the implications of the disobedience of the people throughout the ages.
Also, remember the Parable Of The Talents? The parable in Matthew 25:14-30 tells of a master who was leaving his home to travel, and before going entrusted his property to his servants (property worth 8 talents, where a talent was a large unit of money, as discussed below). One servant receives five talents, the second two talents, and the third one talent, according to their respective abilities.
Returning after a long absence, the master asks his servants for an accounting. The first two servants explain that they have each put their money to work and doubled the value of the property they were entrusted with, and so they are each rewarded. The third servant, however, has merely hidden his talent in a hole in the ground, and is punished.
He also who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter. I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours.”
Matthew 25:24–30 states: But his lord answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow, and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
God is our Lord. We are the servants who are entrusted with “talents”. Talent represents money and anything good that belongs to Him. We are supposed to put these to good use, for His greater purpose, and not ours, and not to squander over and be greedy with.
2 Thessalonians 2:17 says “comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.” Our hearts should be holy, and every word that comes out of your mouth should be inspired by God and every good deed that you do would be rooted from a heart inspired by God.
When we worship, we proclaim who God truly is to us. We declare His righteousness, His glory, His marvelous deeds to others, as well as to Him. We offer our God-given talents and blessings to Him, and we rejoice in songs of praise, psalms, shouts of joy and any form you wish to express this joy to Him.
Worshiping the Lord is not limited to any place. Worshiping does not end in service or masses. Life should be all spent worshiping the Lord.
How do you worship? Do we only worship God when it is convenient?