Have you ever met someone who is generous? Not in any regular way, but in a way-over-the-top manner?
I have a close friend who is a serial giver. Every Christmas, he drafts up a list of friends that he wishes to appreciate, and blesses each friend with a lavish gift. Last year, many of us received expensive chocolates. He also never forgets his friends’ birthdays, and he makes it a point to celebrate us, whether with his time or with his money. The thing that humbles me most about this guy is that he doesn’t have much. That means that every time he gives, he gives until it hurts, and he still does so willingly and joyfully.
In response to his lavish giving, I am always scratching my head trying to figure out what I can do to give back to him. What does he really like? What does he need? What does he want? Once I’ve picked out a gift for him, even though I feel as though I’ve settled on a good gift, I know that it is nothing compared to the time and money he has given to his friends. Still, I pray and hope that he will know just how treasured he is as a friend to us.
This friend’s generosity always reminds me of God. God gives us so much, so generously, in a way-over-the-top manner too! He is a God of abundance, and He showers us with so much — His enduring presence, His righteousness, His wisdom, His peace, His joy … the list goes on and on! Yet these gifts pale in comparison to the most precious gift at the dearest cost — His only son, Jesus, because of His love for us.
In response to this love, I can’t help but want to give back to God! But … what can I give to God? God is not in need of anything, and there is nothing I can buy on this earth that the creator God will need! Furthermore, while I want to give back to God to the same degree that He has given me, nothing I can do comes close to that extravagance.
Mark 12:28–34 gives us a clue. The teacher of the law who tried to test Jesus admits that “To love [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” In response to His extravagant giving, all He wants in return is that we love Him with our whole being.
WHEN OUR HEARTS BEAT WITH ADORATION OF GOD, SOMEHOW OUR LIPS ALSO FOLLOW AND WE BURST INTO SONG.
LOVING GOD 101
One of the most common ways that we tell God how much we love Him is through our songs. Beautiful songs have been written all throughout history that tell of the greatness of God. In fact, the majority of the psalms were written by people who could not help but sing about God’s mercy and goodness. The psalmists expressed their love and awe of God through songwriting and singing. As churchgoers, we have made it a practice to sing songs at church too — a time which we call “praise and worship”. When our hearts beat with adoration of God, somehow our lips often follow and we burst into song.
But there is so much more to worship! At the heart of it, worship is about expressing our love, adoration and devotion to a great God. While singing worship songs is a wonderful act of praise that we should continually practise, being a true worshipper is not simply about singing.
The concept of “true worship” can be difficult for us to wrap our mind around, but thankfully, Paul provides us with a picture of this in Romans 12:1, where he urges the church, “in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
In view of God’s mercy. True worship begins from a place of knowing what God has done for us. Just like how I cannot help but reciprocate my friend’s generosity, it is so with God. Because of all the great things that God has done for us, we cannot help but worship him!
Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. Worship is not what we sing; it is how we live. When you love and revere someone, you want to become like him or her. You want to live in a way that makes them glad, not sad. A true worshipper is someone who lives and breathes to please God.
Holy and pleasing to God. Take a moment to consider how you live your life. Does it please God? When tempted, do you flee? When you sin, do you allow the Holy Spirit to convict you and lead you to repentance? Take a step back and remind yourself of what God has done for you, repent from your ways, and ask God to help you live a life that is Christ-like.
True and proper worship. I like to imagine that my life is like a worship song unto God. Songs can only be written from the heart, and I want my life to be a heartfelt song to God. All that we say and all that we do should be an outward expression of our inward devotion to God. What does that look like? It looks like considering others above yourself. It looks like choosing to do the right thing even when it is not a popular option. It looks like extending a hand of hospitality and help to those around you who need it. For all that I do to be used to serve and love Him — that is the song I want my life to sing.
DON’T MERELY STRIVE TO OFFER THE BEST WORSHIP TO GOD — SEEK TO KNOW HIM FIRST ABOVE ALL ELSE!
THE MASTER MUSICIAN
Max Lucado has written, “Let God have you, and let God love you — and don’t be surprised if your heart begins to hear music you’ve never heard and your feet learn to dance as never before.”
My encouragement is this: don’t merely strive to offer the best worship to God — seek to know Him first above all else! In knowing God more and loving Him more completely, your heart will grow to become so full that it will no longer be able to contain its song to the Lord, and that is the song that God most desires to hear you sing.
If you are feeling fearful that the melody of your life is not worthy to be called “worship”, remember that God is a master musician, and He is transforming your imperfect tune into a masterpiece in which He absolutely delights.