-Just What Is Worship?

Just What Is Worship?
According to Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, the word “worship” means “‘worthship,’ denoting the worthiness of an individual to receive special honor in accordance with that worth.” The noted scholar, W. E. Vine, said it means “to make obeisance, do reverence – from proskuneo (pros, towards, andkuneo, to kiss) the most frequent word for worship.” Originally, the word was used for any object of worth, but gradually the usage became restricted mainly to the worship of deities.


Costly And Sacrificial
The first mention in the Bible of worship (and love) is in Genesis 22, where God tested Abraham saying, “Take now your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering (a sacrifice).” Abraham obeyed, and on arriving at the designated place said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:2,5 NKJV). Notice that this worship would be costly and connected with his love for Isaac.

David knew this principle when buying, from Araunah, the animals and threshing floor as a place of sacrifice. “Nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). David saw this as a worshipful act.

Likewise, Mary also “took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (Jn. 12:3) Her act of worship was costly, and given to the One she had come to love.

Paul, writing to the believers in Rome connects these themes: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). God’s mercies should produce love for Him in our hearts, and our response should be to present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. “Your reasonable service” can be rendered as our rational, intelligent, worshipful service, for “worship” is included in the meaning of these words. Our Lord taught us to deny ourselves and take up the cross daily and follow Him. It has been said that it costs us nothing to be saved, but everything to be a disciple. “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20). These Scriptures teach us that worship is to be in holiness, acceptable to God and for God alone.

In Holiness
Our worship must come from a life that is holy, for God says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). Psalm 29:2 says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” If we knowingly allow or cherish sin in our lives, it will hinder us in our worship, just as it will hinder answers to our prayers: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18).

Acceptable To God
Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23). Worship, like praise, pleases our heavenly Father: “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:23).

The first mention of worship in the New Testament is when the wise men came seeking the newborn King: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (Mt. 2:2). How pleasing it must have been to the Lord when “they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt. 2:11).

These costly gifts were fitting for the One who will yet be recognized as King of kings and Lord of lords. Gold is the emblem of His deity and glory; frankincense reminds us of the fragrance of His lovely life; myrrh, given Him at His crucifixion, is the emblem of His suffering and crushing death. Worship, praise and thanksgiving should all be part of our prayer life.

For God Alone
Satan is the God of this age, and multitudes worship him by bowing down not only at the altars of gods of stone, but of materialism, sport and pleasure as well. Satan even had the affront to say to our Lord, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” But Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Mt. 4:9-l0). Notice that our Lord here connects worship and service, as it is in Romans 12:1.

Worship is the adoration of our redeemed hearts giving glory to God for all that He is, all that He has done, and all that He will yet do. To me the pinnacle of worship is when I join with fellow believers each Lord’s day for praise and worship, and to take the bread and cup in remembrance of the One I love and whom I seek to serve. “So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Mt. 28:8-9).

The risen Savior is worthy of the very best that our redeemed hearts can offer Him.

From The Australasian Christian Digest, December 2002, by Albert Fairweather. Used by permission

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website:


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