In my last article on “mind-provoking worship” I pointed you to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37. Let me point you there again, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. Last time I focused on the mind. This time I want to focus on the heart. Biblical worship is heart-felt.
I’m sure that a surprising amount of pew seats are filled each Sunday around the world with believers who are coming out of duty. Now, they won’t admit to it, but God knows it. Maybe they come because it’s just what Christians do or maybe because they don’t want a visit from the pastor, or maybe they just like being around other Christians. All of that is well and good, but that’s not Christianity. That’s a religion.
Do not be deceived into thinking we can get by with outward religion. God hates outward religion because he wants your heart. You see it throughout the Bible.
Think about Cain and Abel. Why did God accept Abel’s sacrifice and reject Cain’s? Well, Hebrews 11:4 tells us that Abel not only offered a better sacrifice but that he also offered it in faith. In other words, his heart was in it. Cain, on the other hand, was simply being religious.
Think about certain seasons with Israel in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 1:11-15, God says:
- “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.
So, the question in this passage is: why did God order the people to following the sacrificial system that He had given them? Was it because there was no need for it anymore? Isaiah gives us a better understanding later in verses 29:13, Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.” Did you catch that? Their hearts were far from God. They were doing the religion, but there was no relationship; there was no love.
God is not pleased with worship that is without fullness of heart. Men, how many of your wives would be happy if you told her you love her, “I love you?” with dispassionately and flatly. None, I am quite sure. Women, how many of your husbands would be pleased if you told them that the reason you gave him that really cool Christmas gift was just because that’s your duty as a wife? He might say, “Well, don’t you love me too?”
The same is true with God. He will have no part of worship that is done out of duty because worship is not just a physical act. It must be an act of the heart as well.
God doesn’t want just half your heart. He wants all of it. If there’s anything else in your heart, and there should be many good things in your heart, they should all bow down to God in pride of place. They should all play second fiddle to God. God doesn’t want just half your heart; He wants it all.
CS Lewis in the book Mere Christianity says it this way, “Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think are wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.’” Christ gave all of Himself, and the proper response is the giving of all of ourselves back to Him.
Friend, God desires for you to be sold-out to Jesus. Tear down the hindrance of half-heartedness and give Him all your heart in heart-felt worship!
Links to previous posts in this series: