Summary: Discover the real worship.
The Heart of Worship
SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 7:36-39
Today we’ll talk about: WORSHIP. Now when some people hear the word WORSHIP, they think of the singing part of a church service. But the truth is that worship is far more than singing some songs. In fact, every part of a church service is an act of worship. We are worshipping when we read scripture, give our offering, pray, take time to greet each other, listen to preaching of the Word, take the Lord’s Supper --- in fact, the entire service is an act of worship.
And worship is more than a “Worship Service.” Everything that happens before and after the service is also an act of worship. Everything we do ---and everything we are --- can be offered to the Lord as an act of worship.
When it comes to Worship, the HEART of the matter is a matter of the HEART. In fact, this morning I’m using the word H-E-A-R-T as an acrostic. Hopefully this will help us remember what worship is all about.
The H of Heart stands for Humility
In the TEXT we read this morning, Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus and other religious leaders to his home for a fancy banquet. Everything was going as expected until an uninvited guest crashed the party. A woman of ill repute wandered in off the street, and then --- horror of horrors --- she made a spectacle of herself by sobbing, spilling perfume on Jesus’ feet and then wiping his feet with her hair.
This woman shows what true HUMILITY looks like. She knew she would be criticized and scorned by a room full of Religious Leaders. But she did not care about her own reputation. In fact, she focused on Jesus so completely that she seemed unaware that anyone else was in the room.
Meanwhile, Simon the Pharisee condemned the woman’s behavior. In response, Jesus pointed out that the Pharisee did not wash His feet, give him a kiss of greeting, or pour oil on his head. (Now it may have been some time since you entered someone’s house and they kissed you, washed your feet, and poured oil on your head --- but we need to understand that these were basic courtesies any well-bred Jewish host would offer to an honored guest.) The point is, Simon treated Jesus like a run-of-the-mill dinner guest, not like the Guest of Honor.
There’s a clear lesson for us here. Pride is the primary hindrance to Worship. Pride will cause us to be consumed with thoughts of self. Am I comfortable? Do I look good to the people around us? Is everything up to my standards? If we hope to have a true Heart of Worship we must enter God’s presence with a Humble Heart.
The E of Heart stands for Emotion
Luke 7:38 describes the Woman’s worship this way: And as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears … This woman did not hold back a genuine --- and visible --- emotion.
And how did Simon the Pharisee react to this display? Was he sympathetic? Was he impressed? No, like any self-respecting Religious Leader of his day, he was highly offended! Why would Jesus allow such a display? Why this woman was ruining the dignity of his banquet.
There is a lesson here for any of us who tend to be put-off by the way others worship. We need to realize that someone may be crying their eyes out … and truly be worshipping God. On the other hand, someone may be sitting still and quiet … and still be worshiping in their heart. Or a person may be clapping and dancing … with a heart full of true worship.
The lesson is: Don’t judge the worship of others by appearance. In fact, why judge the worship of others at all? It is far better to look into your own heart. Turn your own heart and mind toward God and give true, unfettered worship to Him.
You don’t need to manufacture emotion in order to “look” worshipful. But to tell you the truth, that’s not the problem we tend to run into in our group. Some of us grew up in a tradition where we learned to sit with our hands folded and to maintain a blank facial expression --- no matter what. After all, we’re in church! No smiling allowed. No noise allowed. And for heaven’s sake, don’t let anyone catch you clapping or raising your hands!
Actually, I was raised in that tradition myself. But I discovered those rules are not Biblical. In fact, scripture advises us to make a joyful noise to the Lord, to clap our hands and to raise up holy hands to the Lord. The interesting thing is that when I tried these Biblical forms of worship, it actually helped me focus on the Lord.