LIVING A LIFE OF WORSHIP
Often, when we speak about worship, our minds automatically relate it to the songs we sing to God. And certainly, singing songs from our hearts to the Lord is one expression of worship. But the definition of worship is much broader than simply worshiping with song. The contemporary English word that we use for worship was derived from an Old English word worth-ship which means to ascribe worth to something. If we only view our responsibility to ascribe worth to the Lord through the lens of singing, our concept of worship is far too narrow. True worship is a life lived for God every day.True worship is a life lived for God every day. Click To Tweet
All humans are created to worship. We are intrinsically programmed to worship our Creator. In fact, all of creation already worships Him. (Psalm 148) But humans are the only creatures who have the ability to choose. When people refuse to direct their worship toward the Lord, they redirect it elsewhere. Worship is not something that we can turn off. All we can do is direct it toward created things. As Paul described in Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…”
What that picture looks like varies from person to person. Some people worship other humans, such as celebrities, athletes, musicians and entertainers. Others worship substances, like drugs and alcohol. Some worship their careers, wealth, possessions, food, sports—the list goes on and on. The worship that they direct toward these created things belongs to God alone. In fact, our worship was so important to God that He put it into the first two commandments:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:2-5)
These commands obviously extend far beyond our musical choices or our corporate worship gatherings. God is speaking about our entire lives. And He makes it clear that He deserves and demands all of our worship.
One of the difficulties we have in Western culture when it comes to the concept of a worship lifestyle is that our minds tend to separate secular and sacred things in our lives. We tend to consider people in full-time ministry as the true ministers and everyone else works “secular” jobs. But in the Jewish understanding of life, there was no such distinction between spiritual and nonspiritual things. They saw the world as created by God and, therefore, everything that He created was regarded as sacred. Because of this thinking, the Jewish people viewed all types of work as ministry unto the Lord. It was not only those who were involved in the actual Temple duties, but every trade was seen as an opportunity to express worship to Him.
I think that this worldview is much more in line with the Scriptures. And it helps to view life in this way when we talk about living worship as a lifestyle, rather than simply the act of singing songs to the Lord. We need to break past the thinking that, “When I’m in church, I do spiritual things,” and change our thinking to, “Everything I do is spiritual if I do it as unto the Lord.” Paul addresses this view of life when he writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)
We need to break past the thinking that, “When I’m in church, I do spiritual things,” and change our thinking to, “Everything I do is spiritual if I do it as unto the Lord.” Click To TweetWhen we view life through this lens, then suddenly we realize the great potential we have to glorify the Lord in everything we do, even the menial tasks in life. And we realize that the stay-at-home mother raising her children is worshiping the Lord in her daily life just as much as the pastor preparing a sermon for Sunday. We begin to understand that we are displaying worship when we are having a conversation at work just as much when we are raising our voices to Him in church.
When we examine our lives in this way, a couple of things should happen. Realizing we live out our worship every day should be refreshing. It should help us to see that we can connect with the Lord outside of church and bring Him into everything we do. It should also bring a sense of accountability in our lives. If our entire lives are meant to ascribe worth to the Lord, we may need to do a personal inventory. Perhaps it would do each of us well to take a moment and ask ourselves some honest questions to evaluate the quality of our worship lifestyle.
How is my daily life outside of church reflecting a heart of worship?
A life that really brings glory to the Lord should have certain qualities, such as evidence of a submissive heart and a willingness to obey Him in every area. It should reveal a quality devotional life that includes intimate prayer, a careful study of Scripture and self-denial through fasting. If someone were to follow us around for a week—to our jobs, when we are at home, when no one else is around—what kind of lifestyle would they see?
How is the way I steward my finances reflecting a worshipful lifestyle?
Often, when I am involved with taking up offerings during a Sunday morning service, I like to remind everyone, “We didn’t just end the worship portion of the service to take up this offering. This is an extension of our worship.” The way we view our material resources speaks volumes about what we truly ascribe worth to in our lives. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
How do my relationships with other people show that I worship the Lord alone?
The way that we relate to other people in our lives holds a lot of spiritual weight. In fact, Jesus told us that the way that people would know that we are His disciples is the way that we would love one another. (John 13:35) We could easily replace the word disciples and instead say, “By this everyone will know that you are my worshipers, if you love one another.” How we live with our spouse or our children can be worship to the Lord. The way that we honor other people and put their needs above ours is a sweet aroma to Him.
How do the words that I speak reflect my worship toward God?
Our words are powerful. And they are not only the ones that we speak, but include the words that we write, the words we post on social media and the things that we sing. Jesus said from out of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) What comes out of my heart when I get offended by others? What kinds of words do I speak or post when I am having a bad day? Am I worshiping the Lord by my faith-filled speech?
There are many other areas we could consider when addressing this topic. Hopefully, this exercise will help to get us thinking in the right direction. Essentially, we need to begin to live our lives with the realization that worship is so much more than a song, it is a lifestyle. Having our lives reflect a heart of worship in every area may seem a daunting task. But it is actually the outflow of a heart that is deeply connected with God. When we make our relationship with Him the priority in our lives, that worship will flow into every other area. There is great value in examining our lives and asking ourselves what we are truly worshiping. And if it is the Lord that we worship alone, we need to make the adjustments necessary to incorporate that worship into a lifestyle that is pleasing to Him.
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.