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Worship flows from love, and where there is little love there will be little worship. But there can be an element of selfishness even in love. We can and should worship God in gratitude for what He has done for us, but it reaches a higher level when we worship Him simply for what He is, for the perfections and excellences of His own being.
“I have known men,” said Thomas Goodwin, “who came to God for nothing else but just to come to Him, they so loved Him. They scorned to soil Him and themselves with any other errand than just purely to be alone with Him in His presence.”2
Worship, then, is the loving ascription of praise to God for what He is, both in Himself and in His ways. It is the bowing of the innermost spirit in deep humility and reverence before Him.
When Scipio Africanus returned to Rome after a resounding victory, he rode in triumph, followed by his captives. As he went, he scattered the largess of the victor to the crowds that lined the way. Some were stirred to gratitude by his liberality; some because he had rolled away from their homes the fear of the invading army; still others, forgetful of their personal benefits, praised the qualities of the victor—his courage, resourcefulness, liberality. It was in this last group that the highest element of worship was present.
Worship can be wordless. “My soul, be thou silent unto God,” said the psalmist (Psalm 62:5, ASV, marg.).
There are times when words are an intrusion, times when the worshipper is hushed into awed silence by the ineffable Presence and can only be silent to God. A single word can enshrine a wealth of worship, as when the word Rabboni fell from Mary’s lips (John 20:16).
But worship must be “in truth” (John 4:24, KJV), that is, free from mere profession or pretense. Brother Lawrence, that saint of the kitchen, learned that to worship God in truth is to acknowledge Him to be what He is, and to acknowledge ourselves to be what we are.
How Worship is Stimulated
The scholar in the school of prayer may feel that God seems far away and unreal, so that attempts to worship Him seem a farce. The question arises, How can I know God better so that I can worship Him more worthily? God has granted a partial revelation of Himself in the wonders of nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1, KJV). We learn there of His almighty power, His transcendent beauty, His unsearchable wisdom. But nature does not reveal Him as a God of love and mercy.
Only “in the face of Jesus Christ” will we see the full blaze of the divine glory (2 Cor. 4:6, KJV). All the fullness of God dwells in Him in bodily form (Col. 1:19), and no worship that ignores Christ is acceptable to God, for it is through Christ alone that we have access to the Father.
In Thee, most perfectly expressed,
The Father’s glories shine,
Of the full deity possessed, Eternally Divine!
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That ev’ry knee to Thee should bow.
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