When you think of worship, what comes to mind? In recent years, people have come to think of singing songs in church as the “worship portion” of their lives, but this has not always been so. Let’s take a look together at what the word means, and what the Bible says about it.
The word “worship” comes from an Old English/Anglo-Saxon word, “worðscip,” which means to be worthy, or to have dignity, glory, distinction, honor, renown. “Worðscip” is a compound word, derived from the word “worthy” (weord), meaning valuable; having significance, honor, and importance; and “ship” (scipe) meaning action, or a state of being.1
Thus, a practical understanding would be “to ascribe worth to.” With that consideration, how much do we truly worship? How much worth do we ascribe to the all-powerful, gracious God?
Worship is more than a song; it’s a sacrifice. Be honest. How much have you actually sacrificed by singing a song, raising your hands, or even having an emotional experience? To lay a foundation, we see the first time that the Bible uses the word “worship” in Genesis 22, when Abraham would give God his greatest treasure. “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5). In verse two, God commands Abraham to take his son Isaac to sacrifice him. Abraham calls it an act of worship as he departs from his servants to carry out the sacrifice. Could there be anything more valuable to present to God than the promised son of his old age?
Abraham was a blessed, wealthy man. God had given him great riches. He lacked one thing; a son. So when God miraculously gave a son to Abraham and his wife in their old age, they had it all! God gave him a test of love and loyalty. You could say it was a test to see if Abraham loved God in His proper place. As Abraham made his way up the mountain, just try to imagine the myriad of thoughts swimming through his head. It was indeed a test of faith and a test of love for his God. Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Could He be saying that we are not worthy of Him because we have not ascribed proper worth to Him? Somewhere between God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son and Abraham making his trip up the mountain to carry out that dreadful action, Abraham had already sacrificed Isaac. It was an emotional realization that the thing he loved so much paled in comparison to his love for God. Out of all of his earthly possessions, Isaac was his most prized. In sacrificing Isaac, he would sacrifice everything. As he raised the knife to take his son’s life, God intervenes and says, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12).
If worship is more than just singing songs, or showing up to a church service once and a while, then what is it? Real worship gives value to the object of the worship in two ways: through a price and a position.
The price: worship must cost us something showing that we value the object of our worship.
The position: worship in the Bible was always done from a humble and lowly position showing that the object of our worship is positionally more valuable than us.
It all comes back around to stewardship. Does God have your life? What can I bring to him that costs me something and that humbles me? One great way we can worship is through sacrificial giving (not just obedience giving). “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). God is after your heart in worship, therefore sacrificing something valuable dedicates my heart to Him. How about the sacrifice of time? Is your time more important than your God? Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) and yet we try so hard just to get Christians to go to church. Who’s more important, or of more value? How about sacrificing your feelings and your way for the sake of a testimony that pleases God? Many Christians lose their testimony in the workplace or among friends and family because they had not worshiped God, but self.
As Abraham would go about his days with his son Isaac by his side, no doubt people would look at Abraham as say, “Now there is a blessed man. There is a rich man.” Though he had many riches, and though he had a son in his old age, he could only grin within himself knowing that he had nothing. He had already sacrificed it ALL to the Lord.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). There may not be a clearer picture of life as a living sacrifice than Abraham’s. Living in a way that everything you have has already been given to God. The freedom that comes with this sort of life of worship is absolutely liberating. It allows you to enjoy life on such a deeper level, as everything you have is a blessing and the grace of God. My life is not my own, and the sooner I reckon this fact, the more liberated I become in an actual life of worship. It is in this level of sacrifice that the small things indeed bless the heart of God.
When I’ve given Him everything, then my song is truly a joyful noise unto the Lord. When I’ve given Him everything, then I can truly be a cheerful giver with my finances, which God loves. When I have given Him everything, I have expressed to my God that He truly is worthy, and my life has expressed such worth. I have now begun to worship!
Once I’ve reached such a place of worship, truely the song I bring would please the heart of God!
“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” Psalm 34:1
1 Online Etymology Dictionary. (2001-2016). Retrieved from http://www.etymonline.com/