Why Worship Matters
When the subject is worship, the stakes are high—because worship is what God is all about.
Worship should matter to you simply because it matters to God. And worship matters to God because He knows He’s worthy. I know that doesn’t sound too persuasive in our me-centered culture, but it’s true. Worship doesn’t begin with us. Worship begins and ends with God. And God is worthy of all praise, from all people, for all time.
God is the center of everything that exists. Above all the little gods of earth, He alone is the Creator.
Sustainer. Originator. Life Giver. Beauty Maker.
That’s why every glimpse into God’s presence throughout the pages of His Word affirms that God dwells in endless praise.
Notice the angel host of Revelation, never ceasing to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Never do they stop. Day and night they proclaim Him as central in all Creation. Without pause they are constantly affirming His infinite worth.
The same is true of the skies surrounding us. As the psalmist writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Why? Because that’s what the starry hosts were created to do—day after day they echo back to God and shout at the top of their lungs to anyone else who’s paying attention that He is huge. All-powerful. Glorious. Limitless. They are affirming that the One who imagined their shapes and sizes is beyond our wildest imagination.
And you know what’s really wild? This massive God, who has never known any shortage of worship, wants to be worshiped…by you. Right now.
It’s not that He needs any more worship to be worthy. No, God can’t be more worthy than He already is and always has been. It’s not that God needs our worship—but that He wants it. He wants it because He deserves it. And He commands it because to do so is the most loving thing He can possibly do.
God knows who He is. He knows what He’s worth. And He knows the best thing He can give us is Himself. So in calling us to prize Him above all else, God is both gaining the praise that is rightfully His alone and causing us to gain the greatest treasure we will ever know. God is not an egotist seeking more than He deserves from us. Rather, He is God, choosing, in worship, to reward us with Himself.
DON’T WASTE YOUR WORSHIP
Worship should matter to you because you are and always will be a worshiper. It’s what you do. You can’t help it. You can’t stop it. You can’t live without it. But you can choose where you invest it. You can choose to make your worship count for today and for eternity.
We’re created to worship. That’s why you and I are going to spend our lives declaring the worth of something. As a result, we’ve got to make sure the thing we declare to be of greatest value is really worthy in the long run.
For me, I’ve got to keep making sure that what matters most, matters most to me.
The same is true for you. It’s imperative that you find an object worthy of your affection. It’s essential that you find a God worthy of your life’s devotion.
You only have one life. And you only have one life of worship. You have one brief opportunity in time to declare your allegiance, to unleash your affection, to exalt something or someone above all else.
Don’t waste your worship on some little god, squandering your birthright on idols made only with human imagination. Guard your worship…and carefully evaluate all potential takers.
But valuing God supremely doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate things of beauty and style, as well. It’s certainly not wrong to deeply love another. Nor is it a sin to really be into your profession or to get amped over a trip to your favorite destination.
Enjoying the things that God has made is not a sin, but when we elevate any of these to the highest place in our hearts, we’ve gone too far and cheated both God and ourselves.
“For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised. He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” PSALM 96:4–6, NASB
What it Means to Praise God and Why It’s Good For Us
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His name. Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…. Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1-2,22).
Again and again, throughout Scripture, we are enjoined, instructed, commanded and reminded to praise God. To bless His name. To burst forth in worship during which we say things like “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessings” (Revelation 5:12).
How come? What good does this do to tell God that He is Lord and Master of the universe? Sure He already knows who He is (see John 13:1-4). Being complete within Himself, God does not need our praise.
So, what’s this all about?
It’s a fair question and one that has been asked and answered by disciples far better than this poor child.
As a new believer, C. S. Lewis had trouble with the question: “I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it.” (Reflections on the Psalms)
This being my blog, and Psalm 103 having been dealt with on these pages in recent days, it now falls to me to make an attempt to answer the question: What is it to bless God with praise and what good is it? (Again, I’m grateful to Dr. Lewis whom I shall quote below.)
A Word Study of Praise
Eulogia. Barak. The first is Greek and the second Hebrew.
The Hebrew word comes from a root meaning “to kneel,” we’re told. So, as before royalty, we lower ourselves. We worship and honor.
Eulogia literally means “a good word” or “to speak well of.” When we bless someone we give them words of help, encouragement, honor. “You blessed me,” we might say to one who gave assistance in a needed time. Luke 6:27 calls on us to bless our enemies, meaning we are to say positive, Christ-honoring words to them instead of what our carnal nature suggests.
The matter of blessing God is complicated just a tad by Hebrews 7:7 where we read, “I say beyond all contradiction that the lesser is blessed by the greater.” The writer was calling attention to Melchizedek’s blessing of Abraham at the end of Genesis 14. That act made him greater than Abraham, is the point. But it certainly does not apply when we bless God.
A Parable to Help Understanding Blessing God with Praise
Let’s say you are a kid just out of high school, green behind the ears, and without any real talents except one: you are eager. You’ve been hired by a large company to perform menial tasks. One day, to your complete surprise, you are summoned to the big office and ushered into the inner sanctum where the big boss, the CEO, awaits. He has an errand for you to run. Just for him.
You are more than a little shocked. This is a man of great power. He has thousands of employees. He could give this assignment to assistants who are more experienced and capable than you will be in years. And yet, he is choosing you. You are honored, yes, but overwhelmed is more like it.
You are to travel to a location at the edge of the city and speak to someone in authority on behalf of your boss and deliver a message. That’s all. About as simple as it gets. Out you go. You take the bus for several miles and then transfer to another bus which will deliver you to your destination. And along the way, you start worrying.
Can you do this? Who are you, just a kid with no skills. You have no experience dealing with powerful executives such as the man you will be calling upon. Will you stutter and stammer and be unable to speak? Are you dressed well enough? What if they don’t allow you into his presence? What if the man has bodyguards and layers of authorities–assistants, secretaries, security people–who won’t let you through? How will you be able to return to your employer and report that you failed?
You work yourself into a lather worrying about this. So, you pull the cord and get off at the next corner. You sit on a park bench, take out your phone and call the boss.
‘Sir,” you say hesitantly. “Sir, I’m not sure I can do this. I mean, who am I? And what if his people won’t let me in to see him? What if he laughs at me, just a kid trying to deliver such an important message? What if I fail?”
The boss has dealt with fearful underlings before. He does not rebuke you. He says quietly, “All right, son. Listen to me.”
“This is not about you. This is about me. You work for me. You are on a mission for me. Do you get that?” You nod.
“So, I want you to repeat after me…Ready? Say this along with me…” .
- “My boss is a powerful man in a huge company.”
- “My boss is in charge.”
- “My boss chose me.”
- “My boss believes in me….It is a privilege to serve him in this way….How people respond to my boss’ message is not my worry….My job is to deliver the message….This is not about me…This is about being faithful…doing my job…honoring my employer.”
As you repeat those words–and continue saying them after you’ve ended the phone call–you find things happening. You feel at peace. You are confident. You are energized to go about your assignment. You are thankful to have such an employer. You are determined to serve him well and make him glad he chose you.
A few minutes later, you are standing at the door about to enter where you will carry out your assignment. You begin to hesitate. Fear creeps in. But you know what to do. You speak to yourself: “My boss is a powerful man. He knows what he is doing. This is not about me. He is in charge. I will be faithful. I will honor this one who trusts me.” And you march in and do your job confidently. You are relaxed and smiling, pleasant and confident.
Okay. That is what blessing God does.
Worshipping the Lord should be all about Him, not us. In fact, God’s people are made for praise. The apostle Peter says it like this: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Our main responsibility, then, is to live a life of praise to our heavenly Father. Today’s psalm gives us some guidelines to follow.
When. At all times, whether in good or bad situations, our hearts and mouths should be full of praise for God (v. 1). Worship isn’t just a Sunday thing.
How. The goal of worship is to boast in and magnify the Lord (vv. 2-3). As we focus on His excellencies, He grows bigger in our hearts, minds, and spirits.
Where. Although praise should be a continual personal practice, the psalmist also proclaims, “Let us exalt His name together” (v. 3). Praise is magnified when our voices blend together in exaltation of our Lord.
Is praise a regular part of your life? When you give the Lord a larger place in your thoughts and heart, He is magnified, and praise becomes your sincere and natural response.
“Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.” – Psalm 89:15 NLT
Joy echoes through every stage of the story of the birth of Jesus, beginning with the magi. After following the star for weeks, they were “filled with joy” when it stopped over Bethlehem (Matthew 2:10). That star meant fulfillment: They would be brought into the presence of the great King.
An angel told Zacharias that his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a son (John the Baptist), saying, “You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:14). While Elizabeth was still pregnant, her baby “jumped for joy” as Mary approached them, she being pregnant with the baby Jesus (Luke 1:44).
As an angel told the shepherds about Jesus’ birth, he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people” (Luke 2:10).
People in the world react to the birth of Jesus in many ways—with generosity and benevolence, gifts and parties. But for Believers this is a celebration of joy.
It is a joy that comes from worship, from a heart overwhelmed by the presence of God. This joy only can be experienced through complete surrender to His plan and will—through the kind of commitment that could drive the magi to follow a star for thousands of miles. This is the kind of joy that could fill Mary and Elizabeth, who knew that Jesus’ birth was a supernatural event. This kind of joy was experienced by the shepherds as they were overwhelmed by the glory of God and a choir of angels.
During this Christmas season, remember the importance of worship. Worship can bring you into the presence of God. More than just a ritual or tradition, worship can transform your life. Worship can fill you with joy as you walk in the light of God’s presence!