‘…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:18–19 NIV)
When Christians offer their worship to God what is it that they are doing? Are they massaging the ego of a narcissistic deity who just wants to be adored? Are they trying to get on God’s good side so that he will bless them with lots of good things? Are they trying to impress God with how spiritual they are? Are they trying to earn God’s love?
Christian worship is none of these things.
First and foremost it is a response to God’s unconditional and unfailing love, to his amazing grace, to the forgiveness and mercy he has shown us. All of these things precede our worship. God doesn’t love us and show us grace, forgiveness and mercy because we worship him. Rather worship is our grateful and joyful response to God for the salvation he has already shown us in Christ Jesus his Son.
Notwithstanding that our worship is something we do in response to God’s movement towards us, even this is something God freely gives us. We can only respond to God in heartfelt worship because our love for God has been poured out into us by the Holy Spirit
(Romans 5:5). We only cry out ‘Abba, Father’ because God sent his Spirit to us
(Galatians 4:6), and we can only sincerely exalt Jesus as Lord by the Spirit’s enabling
(1 Corinthians 12:3).
No wonder Paul tells us that a result of being filled with the Spirit is to
‘speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,’ and that he will lead us to
‘Sing and make music from our hearts to the Lord.’
This is what the Christian songwriter Matt Redmond calls ‘a gifted response’(*); this is the heart of worship. God loves us so much that he sent his Son to save us, and he sent his Spirit to enable us to worship him in response to that great love.
Spirit-led worship then, delights in God’s salvation and basks in his love. As the Psalmist said many years ago,
‘Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.’ (Psalms 95:1-2)
Father, may your Spirit constantly fill me with your love and the desire to be a gifted-worshiper, proclaiming your great salvation with thanksgiving, music and song, to your honour and glory. In Jesus’ name
Have a good week worshipping God.
* Matt Redmond, ‘A Gifted Response (We Will Worship You)’ on Facedown 2004.