I often hear that worship is not just going to church to sing a few songs each week. Worship is the way I live my life in response to what Jesus has done in my life. Yet, I was still confusing the definitions of “praise” and “worship.”
Praise: taking what I know about God and out of gratitude I sing and meditate on His attributes for His glory and for my good.
Praise is an attitude.
Worship: an act of devotion to God.
But I’m still wondering: How does living a life of worship work?
This is what I found in Psalm 51:
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Use of bold text added, taken from the ESV)
So what is the worship self-test?
Three things should be evident in my life to qualify as living a life of worship:
1. “Sing aloud”
Now I know that may seem like a “no-brainer” but think about it for a minute. When you sing with a congregation of believers, who hears you? Obviously, anyone close to you should hear, but who else? Does God hear you? Of course, He is everywhere. But wait, when I read “sing aloud” I picture David passionately shouting his praise, and I think that there is a part of the heart that only becomes engaged when we give it “all we’ve got.” So in taking this test, do not quickly mark the box if you know you’ve been holding back.
The idea or definition of this declaration is telling in such a way as to stand out and attract attention. Now for me, this flies in the face of “sharing my testimony just by the way I live.” The point here is that God wants us to talk about Him and what He has done for us in a way that gets people to stop and listen. Declare. I like that right before David says “declare” he says “O Lord, open my lips.” Reading between the lines here I take this as not an easy thing for David to do. I resonate with that. There are times where I feel prompted to speak truth and yet my mouth seems to stop working. I think these moments can be Holy Spirit empowered and used for His purposes when I am willing to worship Jesus by declaring His praise! Simply casting light on God’s character, directing others with words to the glory of Christ! The tension is not wanting to “attract attention,” but I believe that when we accurately declare praise to Jesus the light, attention, and focus is on Jesus and that is where it belongs. A heart truly engaged in worship can flow through the lips in declaring His praise and it won’t end in an ego boost.
We see all throughout scripture the emphasis on sacrifice. At the first, it is animal sacrifice – a tangible act, a visible death. But it doesn’t stop there because God wants human hearts. Sacrifice is costly for everyone. Counting the cost of sacrifice is a part of true worship. In 1 Chronicles 21 David says that he will not offer to the LORD a sacrifice that costs him nothing.
Heart here means our inner man, mind, will, and heart. What makes us who we are that is what God’s going for. He’s not asking for us to sacrifice an animal, or sacrifice our feelings. He doesn’t want us to just change our attitude for Sunday morning – He is asking for a continual, daily laying down of our rights. To pass this segment of the test, there needs to be a inner willingness to change, repent, and surrender to the sovereignty of God…in everything.
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” John 4:24 ESV
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32 ESV
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” Psalm 95:6 ESV
I hope this leads you to dig deeper into your heart and cry out with David “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (Psalm 139:23 ESV)” May the Holy Spirit reveal to each of us individually the truth of His word in action in our lives. May we have eyes to see Him at work and be led to sing aloud, declare, and sacrifice even more! May we long to see Jesus!