Imagine that you are hanging on the edge of a cliff for your life, yelling for help. Then the edge breaks off. Just as you begin your downward plunge to your death, someone grabs your hand and pulls you up.
Do you thank him? Get to know him? Offer to pay him back somehow?
What about ignoring him? Moving on without acknowledging him or his act?
What about even verbally abusing him? Treating him as if he was the one who pushed you off the cliff or as if he refused to help you until the last second?
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master.
If then I am a father, where is my honor?
And if I am a master, where is my fear?
says the LORD of hosts to you,
O priests, who despise my name.”
God is our Father, our King, our Lord, and our Saviour.
Do you treat Him as such?
We are priests to God, and it is our duty to glorify God (1 Peter 2:9-12).
Do you glorify Him in all you do?
He has given all for us, and every blessing we have comes from Him.
Do you thank Him for it?
“But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’
By offering polluted food upon my altar.
But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’
By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised.”
“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil?
And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil?”
Whenever we offer God less than our best—the dredges; the leftovers; the extra, bored, or unwanted time, effort, investment, or passion—it is sin.
Serving God is great, but if you only do it when have time for it, something is wrong.
“Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor?
says the LORD of hosts.”
Consider your service and praise to God. Is it wholehearted? Is it sincere? Is it true?
Is it more or less than what your service would be if you were invited to serve the person you most admire and respect in the world?
You are in service to the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Almighty Creator and the Gracious Giver of all things. He deserves infinitely more praise than you could ever give Him, yet He has chosen you to serve him. What can you give him but your very best?
He is not looking for perfect worship in the sense of perfect music, perfect pitch, perfect words. He’s looking for wholehearted worship—the kind that entreats, begs, and surrenders all before God.
He doesn’t require a perfect worshipper, stainless and upright, but seeks a worshipper who acknowledges his brokenness and brings it all before God.
“And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us.
With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you?
says the LORD of hosts.”
False worship, however, is unacceptable. It is a pretense of truth and a pretense of glorifying God.
It happens when you are bitter at your sibling and bring it in on Sunday morning, singing and smiling and trying to stick your bitterness into an obscure corner without bringing it before God.
It happens when you try to avoid the kind of work or service you dislike on church cleanup day, in mission trips, or when setting up, serving, or cleaning up for a church event.
It happens when you pray, read the Bible, or sing to God while trying to withhold or hide something from Him.
“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors,
that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain!
I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts,
and I will not accept an offering from your hand.”
It is better not to worship than to worship falsely—God hates it.
This is also why it is so important to prepare your heart for worship or for serving God in any way. If you cannot serve God wholeheartedly, refrain from doing so at all, for false worship profanes and disrespects God’s name. If you would serve in God’s name, do so accordingly in a way that will actually glorify Him.
“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations,
and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering.
For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.”
For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts,
And my name will be feared among the nations.”
False worship is not worship at all.
Before I became a Christian, I used to play piano to accompany worship and on special occasions like Good Friday or Christmas. Then, however, I treated it more as an opportunity to display my skill and did it more because a pianist was needed. I put in lots of effort, but it was frustrated effort directed to exemplify my own skills and abilities. While it might have sounded nice, my attitude and approach did not bring glory to God at all. Rather, I hoped that it would bring glory to me.
But, as I found out as a Christian, this is not worship. God does not accept this. I had to completely rethink my approach to worship. It was a struggle, but I have learned that, at the end of the day, the quality of your worship is not so important. Ultimately it’s your heart and your relationship with God.
If you’re going to commit to serve Him, commit all the way—surrender all to God. If you’re going to worship Him, do so truthfully and wholeheartedly. It is a great blessing to glorify the Lord, but it cannot be done halfheartedly.
If you’re going to call God your King and Master, treat Him so.
Hymn Spotlight: “The Heart of Worship” “Only Jesus”
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive a blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob!