“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
We were made to worship.
Everyone worships – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, background, or any other qualifier – our Creator made us to worship Him and Him alone. He so rightly desires and is worthy of worship, He built it into us. And we WILL worship something or someone – God, Satan, ourselves, animals, stars, the Moon, the Sun, the creation, someone else, or something else. We cannot help but worship.
As we prepare our hearts for worship on the Lord’s Day, ask yourself this question: “Do I have any idols in my life?” From the scripture above, it would appear that idols are something that we make. But perhaps it is better to label, as an idol, anything that you place more value on (desire) than worshiping God. We often think of worship as gathering with other Christians to corporately worship God, or praising Almighty God in prayer and song wherever we are when we do it.
But Paul, possibly in light of Jesus’ definition of worship, saw something different. He expands our understanding of worship just as Jesus expanded our understanding of murder , adultery, and divorce.
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Oh, there is so much packed into those two sentences! But here is the key to worship: Worship is about EVERYTHING we do, say, and think. It is not just when we pause to remember God (who He is and what He has done and will do); it is the outpouring of our souls in every waking moment to a glorious and beautiful Creator.
Let’s ask ourselves again: “Do I have ANY idols in my life?” The question should be expanded by asking, “Is there anything in my life that I have not dedicated to God and, even in the enjoyment of it, acknowledge Him by engaging in the practice of recognizing its proper place in life to ensure that God ALWAYS has first priority in everything?”
Here is a list of common idols that we may or may not see in our lives:
- Children’s sporting events on Sunday (what’s really more important: honoring their commitment to the team, or the commitment to not forsake the gathering of the brethren? Or does it really matter?)
- We desire to spend time (take care of) our cars / houses / spouses / children / making money / [fill in the blank] more than we desire to read our Bibles, pray, and evangelize.
- Sin is an idol. If we are caught up in sin, let us confess our sins to one another and pray for one another that we may forgiven, healed, and free.
- Addictions of any type – food, drinking, drugs, video games, porn, the list is long…
Everything we think, everything we do, and everything we say is an expression of worship. So, who/what are we really worshiping?
A short prayer of preparation:
Merciful Father, your mercies renew every morning. You are full of grace and beckon us to come to you with contrite hearts, for you have said that blessed are those that mourn. Search my heart, O God, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offense in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. You and You alone can see my hidden faults, for sin blinds me to them. Show me the idols in my life, Lord God. Where they exist, You cannot rule and reign. Remove them from me – remove even the desire for them from my heart, that with clean hands and a pure heart I can come before You in joyful worship. Guide me in the ways I should go. This I ask in the precious name of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.