Some people focus primarily on speaking or singing praise to God. Praise is good, but if all we do is praise God, without ever listening to what He says, we have to ask whether we believe the words we are saying. Since He is all wise, all knowing and all loving, then we need to be attentive to what He tells us. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
Similarly, all talk and no action does not show God the respect He deserves. Actions speak louder than words, and if our behavior isn’t changed by God, then our actions are saying that God isn’t important — He’s a nice idea, but not relevant to our day-to-day lives. When we really believe that God is worthy of every praise, then we will be willing to listen and to change the way we live in response to such a worthy God. We will trust Him and seek Him and want to please Him as much as we can. Worship should affect our behavior. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)
We can’t know God’s worth, much less declare it, unless God reveals Himself to us. So God initiates worship by revealing Himself to us. Then we respond, and the proper response is worship. The more we grasp His greatness, His power, His love, His character, the more we understand His worthiness, the better we can declare His worth – the better we can worship.
Our worship is a response to what God has revealed Himself to be, not only in who He is, but also in what He has done and is doing and will do in the future. Worship includes all our responses to God – including a response with our mind, such as our belief in God’s worthiness, our emotions, such as love and trust, and our actions and our words. Our heart expresses itself in words and songs; our mind is active when we want to learn what God wants us to do, and our bodies and strength are involved when we obey and when we serve. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)
Both Old Testament and New Testament tell us that our relationship with God should involve our heart, mind, soul, and strength. It involves all that we are. Worship involves heart, mind, soul and strength, too. Our words complete the picture by saying that God has worth. In the words we say to one another, in the prayers we say to God, in the songs we sing, we can declare that God is worth more than all other gods, worth more than all other things.
We can worship God all by ourselves. But it is also something we do together. God has revealed Himself not just to me, but to many people. God puts us in a community, He reveals Himself to a community and through a community, and the community together responds to Him in worship, in declaring that He is worth all honor and praise. “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.” (Ps. 96:3)
Moreover, God promises that whenever we gather in Jesus’ name, He will be there. We gather in His presence, and because of His promise, we expect Him to be with us. He is the One who calls us together, who reveals Himself to us, who initiates the worship and is the object of our worship. “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'” (Rev. 4:9-11)
Today I am thankful that the Lord revealed Himself to me, that Jesus Christ bore my sins on the cross for me, and that the Lord has brought people in my path to share the joy of salvation with me. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who “speaks” to me. I am grateful for the opportunity to worship the true God, to be able to come directly to Him through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. “My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.” (Ps. 35:28)