A few years ago, my wife bought me a shirt that has “I’m silently correcting your grammar” printed on the front. It’s funny and I used to wear it all the time (I stopped because I grew, not because it ceased being funny), but it was also true. As someone who creates–a blog post, graphic design, what have you–I’m constantly seeing errors all around me. I’d like to chalk it up to my obsessive-compulsive disorder, and maybe it is, but it also is not very healthy. It impacts a lot of my life, including my worship.
Sunday mornings always start with great intentions. I look forward to worshiping with my church family. But it takes one misspelled word or wrong chord, and my focus turns from God to what’s going on around me, looking for the next mistake.
Sadly, this isn’t the only way the enemy attempts to keep us focused on anything but God. I’m confident that you’ve argued with a family member on the way to church, stayed up way too late the night before, or found some other form of distraction. It’s one of the few things the devil excels at! If he can’t keep you from a relationship with God, at least he can keep your relationship from growing.
Not only does half-hearted, distracted worship hinder us, but it also deprives God of the glory that He deserves. It was an issue that the prophet Malachi dealt with in his time. After they returned from exile, the Jews were going through the motions rather than following the law exactly. Here’s what God said to them:
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name.”
How were the priests despising the name of God? By offering lame and blemished sacrifices rather than the strong, first-born animals they were supposed to.
“But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD.”
Why should God accept an inferior sacrifice when His name will be made great among the nations without the help of the Jews (Malachi 1:11)? Half-hearted worship does not honor God, so how do we assure that our worship is free of the things that keep our thoughts on ourselves?
Like any other exercise, we need to warm up. Spend time preparing your heart for worship, whether it is during a Sunday morning corporate worship service or as just a daily practice. You can meditate on a psalm, pray and ask God to tune your heart toward His, ask for forgiveness of any sins that may be keeping your focus on Him.
Our goal, the attitude that we should be striving for, can be found in the book of another prophet, Micah. When asked by the people what God wanted from them, this was Micah’s response:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
by Rob Trahan