“What is worship?”
That is the question that Charlie asks often if K-love is on in the car. I had to think about it for a minute the first time he asked, because how do you describe what worship is, to a 7-year-old? At face value, and according to Webster dictionary, worship is defined as honoring and showing reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power, or regarding with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.
It can be easy to pigeon hole worship as just songs of adoration. But Romans 12:1 says this about what worship is:
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.
And so my answer to Charlie is the same answer I give you. Worship is living our lives in a way that honors God above all else.
What worship is.
Let’s go back to Mary from last week. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the grave. And they were having a dinner in Jesus’ honor. Martha was serving, and Lazarus (who had just been raised from the dead) reclined at the table with Him.
Mary took an expensive bottle of perfume, poured it on the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.
Washing someone’s feet was an act of hospitality for a guest. Either the host, or a servant would perform the task. But this was a dirty job, because back then they didn’t walk around in boots that would keep a person’s feet clean. They wore sandals, and the roads were of dirt.(And let me tell you, my husband is disgusted by feet… so ask him if he would like to do this task!)
The perfume she used was very expensive, and probably a year’s worth of wages. This was an act of heartfelt love, gratitude, and adoration. Worship. She was offering Jesus the very best she had.
This Was Worship.
But Judas made sure Jesus knew his thoughts about what had just happened. Why hadn’t the perfume been sold and the money given to the poor? Why offer something to Him that cost so much? However, we are told that Judas didn’t really care about the poor. He wanted what belonged to Christ. and he didn’t want Christ to have what Christ deserved, if he wasn’t going to get anything out of it.
In reality, as the disciple who was keeper of the money bag, he would help himself to what was put into it. And that would have been his desire in this situation. Sell the perfume so he could benefit from it, and use the poor as a facade for his greedy heart.
And this was the response of Jesus. “Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Let me be really clear as to what Jesus was saying here. We will bring Jesus our best when what we bring is out of love. Love for Him. Love for others. Worship is not a waste. Worship is never a waste.
How To Live A Life Of Worship.
So how do we live this out in our lives? You see this acted out really well in scripture in the book of Ruth. We all know the story. She gave up a life of security to walk alongside Naomi.
She wasn’t committing to a life of being served and provided for, but a life of serving and providing for the needs of another. Ruth wasn’t committing to a certain life, but to a faithful God.
I want to point out something. The first time we are introduced to Ruth it is in verse 1:4. It says “They (Mahlon and Killion, Naomi’s sons) married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth.” For someone who had a book of the Bible named after her, she was named second. Seems a little strange, and even more so because she was married to the oldest son.
Ruth Was Second.
Why was she named last? I don’t know, and I have no idea what kind of meaning is behind this. It is possible she was just younger than Orpah, because usually the eldest is listed first in scripture. And usually more is expected from the eldest. Less is normally expected from the youngest.
But one thing seems clear here… Ruth stepping up to go with Naomi was probably completely unexpected.
The last will be first.
I kind of wonder what Ruth’s family thought when they heard she would be returning to Bethlehem with Naomi. They probably would have welcomed her back with open arms. Given her a life, a family, a hope for the future. But that isn’t the life she chose. She chose uncertainty. And scripture makes it seem like it wasn’t much of a difficult decision for her. It seems like she was more than ready to make this heartfelt commitment to Naomi. This can only be done because of a deep, selfless love.
Where you go I go. Where you stay I stay.
What she did probably wasn’t what was expected at all, especially from the younger maybe. But it didn’t stop her from her firm commitment for Naomi’s God to be her God, even if others didn’t understand how she lived her life, as they were stirred about when they arrived back in Bethlehem.
And the thought of what others thought of her didn’t seem to concern Mary, as she was pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiping it with her hair, either.
Do your friends and family not understand the life you live? You are not alone.
I will say that again.
You are not alone. As much as we would like for all of our loved ones to understand how we live our lives, that may never happen. And that is largely in part because we don’t follow the ways of the world. And since we don’t follow the ways of the world, more times than not, our lifestyle won’t be understood by the ones who understand the ways of the world.
His Ways Are Higher Than Ours.
Please hear me when I say, that this is okay. If you are living your life for Christ. And every beat of your heart beats for Him. And if you give Him your very very very very best, then you will have God’s favor on your life. You have His blessings, and His protection. You have your place in heaven. And the most important thing is that He will be glorified, because He is getting the honor and praise that He deserves.
Mary served the Lord, giving Him her very best, and not her leftovers. That is worship. Ruth did the same. And both of them were met with God’s protection on their lives.
God’s favor doesn’t rest on those who do the expected, does it? It rests on those who serve Him with their whole heart.
I love both of these women’s postures before the Lord. And my prayer is that this be our posture. That we bring Jesus our very best, because when we bring Jesus our best, we are coming before the risen King in worship, the One whose promises will never return void, and the One who will always have the victory.