What Do We Know About
The Attitudes and Actions of Worship?


          What does it mean to worship the one, true and living God? Jehovah is the focus of worship in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament we read, " For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14) In the New Testament we read, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4:10) So then the purpose of our worship must be to glorify God, to give Him honor and praise. Our worship must show our adoration and reverence for God. An example of true worship is seen in Exodus 34:8. There the Bible says, "And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped." Worship is a time of coming before God in humble submission.


          Proper reverence and adoration for God in worship is seen as "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne." (Revelation 4:10) Worship is the response of a human heart giving God the praise that is due Him. David wrote, "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 29:2) Worship is to regard God as a divine being, worthy of honor and respect. The first time the word "worship" appears in out King James Bible was when "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 humble obedience to the command to sacrifice his son Abraham was worshipping God.


          We know that to worship correctly we must worship only Jehovah. If we have any regard for our own souls, we will want to make sure we are worshipping the one, true God in the way He has commanded. In the Old Testament God said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me." (Exodus 20:3-5) We must not bow down before other gods. God is a jealous God. Jesus said, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4:10) David wrote, "Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth." (Psalm 96:7-9) True worship is giving honor to God alone by following His instructions.


                    We know that to worship correctly our worship must be done with proper motives. The manner or the motive that is involved in our worship must be correct. Worship is more than just having the external actions correct. Worship must be done only through proper motives. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) Those that eat or drink unworthily do so in an irreverent manner. Their focus is neither on Him that appointed the Memorial nor on the result of properly communing. Even in the Old Testament the mental attitude involved in worship was of utmost importance. "For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." (Psalm 51:16-17) We must take care to worship God as He desires and deserves. Worship is not just a time of trying to see or be seen. Our aim must be to be pleasing to God in this life and finally acquire everlasting life with Him in eternity. We can only do this if our motives are right when we worship.


          We know that to worship correctly we must be humble and penitent in attitude. Acceptable worship is a very serious matter and will not happen by accident. Worship should cause us to think about God's greatness and our own frailty. Our attitude in worship will help determine weather our worship will be acceptable to God. Bible students are familiar with the worship of Cain and Abel. There was something wrong with Cain's sacrifice, but before that there was something wrong with his attitude. "But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." (Genesis 4:5) When our attitude is right it will cause us to become like the God we worship. Our worship is an expression of love and awe to the God that gives us more than we deserve. Our attitude must be that worship is about us submitting ourselves to the desires of God, as expressed in His word.


                                                          We know that to worship correctly our life must be godly for our worship to be acceptable. In the days of Amos the prophet the people worshipped idols. They hated what was upright. They took advantage of the poor. They were a drunken people. They took bribes. These same people would come before God to "worship." God said, "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." (Amos 5:21-24) The same was true in Isaiah's day. The sinful lives of the people caused their worship to be rejected by God. God said, "when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear." (Isaiah 1:11-17) Even if they were doing the rights things in worship in order for their worship to be acceptable God commanded, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." Godly living is a perquisite to acceptable worship.


          We know that to worship correctly our heart must be prepared for worship. The Bible tells us that "Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." (Ezra 7:10) This is the same idea expressed in Jeremiah 15:16. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." Our heart must be prepared for worship. Much of the life of a Christian has to do with the heart. With the heart or from the heart man (1) believes (Romans 10:10), (2) thinks (Matthew 9:4), (3) speaks (Matthew 12:34), (4) forgives (Matthew 18:35), (5) reasons (Mark 2:6), and (6) purposes. (2 Corinthians 9:7) Those that worship acceptably do so from a heart that is prepared for worship!


          We know that to worship correctly we must follow the Bible pattern for worship. Worship is not intended to be a Disney World experience. The purpose of worship is not to entertain us. The problem with worship designed to entertain is the change from what God designed and desired to what man designed and desired. Jesus said, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:7-9) Our desire should be that expressed in Psalm 122:1 "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD." Our sense of reverence and adoration for God must never give way to selfish desire to be entertained. Love for God motivates us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. "I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies." (Psalm 18:1-3)


          Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Following our response to God's good news we must worship God in spirit and in truth.  


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA