Understanding Worship's Key Elements

Praise and worship. The Bible speaks often of worshiping God. And perhaps we have assumed we know what is meant by the word. However, it may be worth a second look. Most often we think of worship as something we do in church, by our praying and hymn-singing. That indeed may be worship. But there is more to it than that.

1) Worship involves submission to God. Praise and worship is more than just singing emotional songs. The Hebrew words translated "worship" in the Old Testament mean: to bow down, to prostrate one's self. One Greek word for worship commonly used in the New Testament means to kiss the hand--as a dog might lick the hand of its master. It also implies a kneeling or bowing down. Plainly, these word-pictures are meant to convey one's humble submission to God. The physical posture represents a heart reality to be expressed in our every-day conduct. Worship on the lips without obedience in the life is hypocrisy.

2) Worship involves service for God. Another Greek expression translated "worship" emphasizes the aspect of service. And still another means to sweep, a reference to sweeping or cleaning a place of worship. From this we learn that an integral part of worship is to do the work God has ordained for us to do. When we truly fulfil the purpose for which God has made us, that too is an aspect worship.

3) Worship involves a celebration of God. The origin of the English word itself adds another dimension which is compatible with the above. It comes from the Old English woerth-scipe, meaning worth-ship, or worthiness. This suits the Greek word latreuo, which can signify serving by expressing homage or offering gifts. To offer praise to God, expressing His intrinsic worth, is also a form of worship. But it cannot exist without the other two. Right words from a rebel heart are an abomination to God.