The Heart of Worship

What does God really want from you?

This is a significant question in life that has many answers. Many of us may answer the question correctly with our mouths, but our actions tell a different story.

The book of Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament and in the Minor Prophets, but it has much to say about pure worship and the Lord’s part in bringing that about. In this last week in our Rooted in the Prophets series, we hear the Lord calling us to give to Him what he deserves in worship. The Israelites had no trouble giving the worst part of their flocks to God – the lame lambs, diseased kids, blind bulls – that really cost them nothing. To give these animals meant little to the people of Israel because they did not profit off of them anyways. The principle that God highlights in worship here is that simply giving something to God means very little.

RefinementWe see this play out in a Biblical story in 2 Samuel 24:18-25. King David had the opportunity to get some land free to build an altar to God. This altar needed to be built in order to stop a plague that was ravishing Israel. David had done wrong against God through a census which he did even though he knew that he shouldn’t. So, he needed to have his sin covered through sacrifice. Well, Araunah the Jebusite offered the land David wanted to him for free, but David responds with a line that embodies a heart of worship that God desires: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

This is the heart of true worship. What is it for a millionaire to throw $100 to a charity? Is that any skin off of their own back? Does that come from a heart that cares? The gesture may not be wrong in principle, but in the heart that withholds true concern and care is found sin. To worship God with reservation is to rob God of what He deserves. He is the King who deserves more than trivial thoughts, sleepy prayers, and social conventions.

We tend to be on high alert at work because we want to make sure we keep our jobs. We remain vigilant in the areas of life that have risk associated with them. However, we can become comfortable around God in such a way that we assume He will agree with everything we bring to Him. We bank on God’s mercy beyond simple failings. God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love (Ex. 34:6), but He is not a God to be trifled with. Coming to God with half-hearted devotion is useless, so much so that God would rather the doors be shut to places of worship than hollow rituals be observed (Mal. 1:10).

So, what will you do with this message? What are the rituals that you go through that need full devotion? What prayers and songs and studies need your full attention? What praise and thankfulness needs repetition with more truth?

The temptation to live in a half-hearted relationship with God lies before each believer in Jesus Christ. However, Malachi teaches us that only worship from a pure heart is acceptable to a God worthy of all praise. This does not mean you need eloquence, genius, or riches to impress God – you just need to honor him fully with what you do have.

-Pastor Sean