THE OTHER SIDE OF WORSHIP
Heaven exists to worship God and earth finds true purpose in knowing and worshipping God. The Shorter Catechism of the Church of Scotland describes the 'chief end of man,' i.e., the great purpose of man's life, as 'to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' Worship then is the highest activity of man; for it is the one activity whose sole intent is God's glory. "Worship is an inward attitude, not a physical attitude, and it is a state of mind and it is a sustained act."
Christian worship is often thought of as the singing and music portion of a church service, but they are only a part of the picture. Christian worship is so much more than that! William Temple gives an excellent definition: "To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God." Worship is thus both a revelation and response.
Christian worship is showing reverence and gratitude by bowing down before God (Neh.8:6). Worship is a sense of the greatness of Almighty God (Isa.40:25,28;Psa.96:8-9). Worship is an obligation of all creatures to glorify the Holy Creator (Psa.29:2). It is also the praise of God; God is worthy to be praised (Psa.18:3). Worship is true sacrifice (Heb.13:15; 1Pet.2:5). God created us and then regenerated us to worship Him in truth and spirit, beginning on earth and continuing in heaven.
But above all, worship is also offering our substance, our best, unto God, worshipping the Lord through giving (Matt.2:1-2,9-11). True worship is incomplete without giving our best to the Lord: "None shall appear before Me empty-handed" (Exo.23:15). Worshipping the Lord includes giving our substance. "Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury" (Mk.12:43-44).
Here, we see how our worship and giving are interrelated, when we give offerings, tithes, and alms in an attitude of worship. Worship must be all, entire. By that we mean, the total life must worship God or our worship is not complete. The whole personality has to worship God. Faith, love, obedience, loyalty, high conduct and life-all must be taken as burnt offering and offered to God. If there is anything in me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly.
In other words, bringing an offering to God gives us access in His courts. This was God's ordinance for worship and celebration in the temple for Israelites. Scriptures such as Exodus 23:14-15, Malachi 3:10 and Deuteronomy 26:1-12 clearly show that when we give offerings and our substance, we are performing an act of sacred worship to God, and He considers it seriously as any other spiritual act we do to glorify His name. In Psalm 96:8, the Psalmist exhorts all people of God, saying, "Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts" (Psa.96:8).
Paul writing to the Corinthian church says, "We carry the offering, which we administer in order to honour the Lord Himself" (2Cor.8:19). In our worship we honour God through our substance. Many times we are so casual in our giving, forgetting that honour and love expressed in our giving can be like a sweet aroma pleasing to God.
In Genesis 4, we see Cain and Abel wanted to worship God. Abel's offering, an animal sacrifice, was accepted, but Cain's offering, of the fruits of the earth, was rejected by God. About this Canon R. W. F. Wootton, says, "The reason for acceptance and rejection is to be found in the attitude of the offerers; it bears witness to an early conviction that not everything that man might offer was necessarily acceptable to God." When we give, we pray and give according to His will, what He wants and not what we want.
Do we know the richest man who ever lived on this earth? It's not Bill Gates or Alexander the Great, but King Solomon. What was the secret of his profuse wealth? 'Solomon's offering' was the secret of wealth and wisdom he received from the Lord. When you read the account of the story in 2 Chronicles 1:5-6 we find that he was so humble in his heart and loved God so much that it made him to give the biggest offering anybody ever offered to God, 1000 burnt offerings. Today this total offering comes somewhere about Rs. 250 billion. God blessed Solomon with unimaginable wisdom and unthinkable prosperity. His magnificent achievements have never been equalled.
Giving Is Indispensable
In the story of the wise men (Matt.2:1-2,9-11), we find a beautiful progression of faith. After worship, or as a part of their worship, they gave their gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were wise and knew that true worship was not complete until they bestowed their love offerings on the altar. We may not be able to give gold, frankincense and myrrh as the wise men gave, but what can we give? One must decide for himself. It's not that God needs to receive, but we need to give. Jesus told a story of a widow (Lk.21:2-4; Mk.12:43-44) who had come to worship the Lord in the synagogue, and gave two mites, but it was all she had. How many of us would empty ourselves before the Lord, not only spiritually, but also financially?
To be Christ's true and faithful servants, we must recognise that we have been given much more than money to build His kingdom. Indeed, the Apostle Paul urges us in Romans 12:1-2, to be living sacrifices, worshipping God by putting all of our time, energy, and abilities at His disposal and direction. When we spend and invest on 'souls,' God is worshipped. Giving offerings, tithe and alms is an act of worship and love. Let it never become a burden, but a joy to give to God.
God wants worshippers first. Jesus did not redeem us to make us workers. He redeemed us to make us worshippers. And then out of the blazing worship of our hearts springs our work.
Dr. Ravi Zacharias, rightly gives a final thought on worship and giving, "To consume the best for yourself and give the crumbs to God is blasphemy. A heart that truly worships is a heart that gives its best to God in time and substance. A heart that truly worships God gives generously to the causes of God, causes that God cares deeply about. I have to wonder whether some day we may wake up to discover that all our incestuous spending on ourselves and our frantic construction of excessively luxurious places of worship-even as we ignore, for the most part, the hurting and deprived of the world-filled God's heart with pain. Those of us who have enough must learn the art and the heart of giving, if we are to be true worshippers. Spending more and more on ourselves and giving less and less to the world in need may be the very reason few take our mission seriously."
Worship is more than an act of reverence. It is an attitude of the heart. Billy Graham ascertains as he remarks, "A cheque-book is a theological document, it will tell you who and what you worship."
"Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."