By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
To some, worship might seem like the 20-minute prelude to the sermon each Sunday morning. Or perhaps it’s a synonym for the gathering of believers: “I’ll see you at the worship service.” “I’m not staying for worship.” “I’ll meet you just after worship.”
Yet worship is not confined to music and singing, nor is it limited to a building or gathering of the saints. Worship is anything you and I do to esteem and magnify the worth-ship of God.
Psalm 34:3 exhorts: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (ESV).
It isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a command—and it’s absolutely essential if we are to live an obedient and surrendered life as a follower of Jesus. We can magnify or enlarge the Lord’s name when we incorporate into our everyday lives ways of honoring Him, affirming His worth, and praising Him for Who He is, not just what He’s done.
While gratitude is thanking God for what He’s done, praise and worship is adoring Him for Who He is. Here are seven reasons worship is essential to the Christian life:
1. Worship keeps us heavenly-minded.
Colossians 3:2 instructs: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Worship focuses our minds—and hearts—on eternity. It reminds us we are not of this world—we have an eternal home with Jesus, and that’s why we can feel we don’t belong here on this earth, especially when our priorities and convictions are those of Christ’s and that sets us at odds with the rest of this world. Jesus said the world will hate us as it hated Him because He has chosen us out of the world to be called His (John 15:18-20). So, if you’re feeling that hate, you’re likely living in a way that is rubbing others the wrong way. You can keep a heavenly focus and remember to Whom and where you belong when you are in constant worship of your King. It also keeps you from trying to please, fit in with, or conform to this world (Romans 12:2). Worship your Lord, please Him, and He’ll keep you in constant touch with your purpose for being here and will give you joy and peace while you remain obedient to Him.
2. Worship keeps us focused on God, not ourselves.
We can so easily be all about ourselves. Our self-love mentality can make us believe we exist for ourselves. Yet we exist to glorify God. To focus on God’s worth-ship is to get ourselves out of the picture and let Him take the spotlight. John the Baptist said this about Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). That’s what worship does…it magnifies God and shrinks us, as it should be. In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, John 3:30 is translated this way: “This is the assigned moment for [Jesus] to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” Worship puts the spotlight on God and places us back in the humble position to grow spiritually.
3. Worship prioritizes our hearts and lives.
Another aspect of worship is giving of your time, talents, and treasure. That definitely prioritizes our life as we give our time and money to what is most important to us. When you determine to give to God first your tithes and offerings after being paid each month, it prioritizes your spending, budgeting, and stewardship of all that He has given you. When you give of your time first to Him in prayer and reading of His Word, it prioritizes your day in determining Who and what is most important to you. In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus commanded His followers to store up treasures in heaven, not here on earth. And by worshipping Him with the first and best of all you have (including your time, money, and abilities), you are showing Him He is first and foremost in your heart.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Jantanee Rungpranomkorn
4. Worship slows us down and reminds us of what matters most.
One of my favorite worship activities is my daily walk around a small lake near my home. I can’t help but recognize and adore God when I’m outside among the beauty of His creation—away from technology, mobile devices, and anything with a screen or “signal.” It is then that we can tune into His signals—the gentle breeze, the way He parts the clouds and sends the sun’s rays to shine through, the song of a bird, the rustle of leaves, and the reminder that “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1 ESV).
Getting out in nature reminds us of our purpose. According to the Westminster Catechism, man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. That means we were created to worship. We are wired for it. Being out in the beauty of His creation and worshipping Him makes me think of the Luke 19 account when Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on a young colt and the Pharisees demanded He rebuke His followers for waving their palm branches and crying out praise to Him, their king. Jesus said if they remained silent “the very stones would cry out.” He must be praised and we are the ones created to do it. Don’t leave your God-given calling and purpose to the rocks!
5. Worship is a witness to the world of whom we love.
We all worship (or serve) something. Money. Fame. Possessions. People. Social Status. Substances. Self. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24 NASB, emphasis added). Because worship is ingrained in us, and we all worship something, taking the time to admire His magnificence in all He has created reminds us that He—not, possessions, fame, social status, substances, or any created thing—is worthy of our adoration and devotion. He alone is our greatest possession, worthy of all of my worship—and yours. King David, who was described by God as “a man after My heart” (Acts 13:22 NASB), sang: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup” (Psalm 16:5 NIV).
6. Worship readies us for what’s to come.
It is essential that we be in worship shape when we enter eternity. None of us knows exactly when our time on earth will expire. Whether we leave this earth and enter eternity by what we call an “accident” or “natural causes”—it’s all according to God’s timing, not ours. Therefore, we want to be in worship shape by the time we enter God’s presence, not wishing we’d spent more earthly hours preparing for our heavenly home. Psalm 100:4 tells us: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” That should be a good goal of ours for how we enter eternity, as well. If you are always worshipping, you likely might be doing just that when you suddenly, unexpectedly, enter the presence of God.
Scripture tells us we’ll be worshipping God for an eternity, so I want that to be second nature—if not first—when I get to heaven, don’t you?
And that’s where corporate worship comes in. While we can worship individually (our heart connecting with God’s), there’s also a dynamic and necessary component of worshiping with other believers. Corporate worship includes accountability, encouragement, and the lifting up of one another as we grow together in unity. Jesus said our unity, and united worship, with other believers would be evidence of our love for Him. There’s a reason the world looks at “the church” differently. Be a part of a local, growing, thriving body of Christ. It is essential to growing spiritually and maturing in your faith and unity with other believers. Philippians 2:2 tells us we are to be of the same mind, maintain the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Corporate worship is a big part of that.
7. Worship feeds our souls.
Ever wonder how easy it is to become complacent if you haven’t gathered with other believers in quite some time? Have you noticed it’s sometimes difficult to find anything to be grateful for if you are not regularly in His Word and being reminded that everything you have has been given to you? Do you ever lack spiritual energy and focus? That’s because just like the human body needs food, water, and sleep, the soul needs worship in order to be refreshed, refueled, and re-energized. Give worship to the One who deserves it all. It’s the only way you’ll grow in obedience and intimacy with Him.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is also a mother, pastor’s wife, and author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When Couples Walk Together:31 Days to a Closer Connection, which she co-authored with her husband of 35 years. For more on her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.