Is My Worship Genuine?

Is my worship pleasing to God?
For some people, the question "Is my worship genuine?" seems ridiculous. "Of course it is," they say. Didn't I lift my hands in praise, and shout the name of Jesus at the top of my lungs? But the thing about worship, genuine worship, is that it has absolutely *nothing* to do with the act of lifting your hands or shouting the name of Jesus.
Say What?
No she didn't.
Oh yes, yes I did.

Here's a little tidbit of info that came as a bit of a surprise to me at first realization: Worship has nothing to do with what you say with your mouth or how high you lift your hands. Don't get me wrong, these are wonderful and beautiful things when they are authentic and spiritually intimate experiences between you and God (I'll touch more on that in a minute...), but true worship takes place within your heart.
I think we are all at least a little guilty of half-hearted worship in a Sunday morning service at some point or another. Your hands are up, but you're thinking about what you want for lunch.
Worship is all about being >real< with God. He knows our true heart; better than we know it ourselves. There's no "tricking" Him into thinking that our worship is or isn't genuine. He knows. So just be real.
If you find yourself worshiping for others (putting on a show or adding dramatics to appear more spiritual), just take a minute. Drop the act. Say a prayer.
It's OK. We all mess up and get distracted on occasion. Just talk to God; I promise He will understand. Go to Him with a spirit of humility and penitence and ask Him to change the state of your heart.
It's totally normal to allow your mind to become preoccupied now and then, but we should never use that as an excuse to allow manufactured excitement to regularly invade our praise.
The goal of our worship should never be to exalt or draw attention to ourselves.
The very nature of worship is to deny self and shine the light of our focus on Jesus.

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God."

Self-glorification was something the Pharisees and others like them loved to do. In fact, Jesus called them out on it on more than one occasion:
In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, we read of an unnamed woman - a widow who gave all she had (a meager two coins). This is contrasted with the wealthy people of the village who gave amounts that, although grand, were no more sacrificial than Taylor Swift donating $100 to charity.
I promise this is relevant. Here's why:
In these temples, the treasuries were strategically crafted so that depositing coins would cause a loud racket. i.e. The more you deposited, the louder the noise, and the more attention you brought to your "good deed." These wealthy men and women would bring large sums in order to draw recognition to themselves - Not to glorify God. Jesus was not impressed.
God didn't want these offerings anymore than He desires empty praise.
Directly before their encounter with the widow, Jesus taught His followers to look out for the teachers of religious law who liked to put on a show for their own glory.
I think it's safe to say that Jesus' stance on this topic is quite cut & dry. No gray areas here.

"You cannot impress people with yourself and impress them with the Lord Jesus simultaneously."
- Alistair Begg

So what does raw, authentic worship look like?
That is entirely up to you, my friend. Your worship should be unique to you.
However, here are some of the qualities that any form of genuine praise should embody:

A focused heart
Clearing your mind and fixing your focus on Jesus will open doors for the Holy Spirit to begin to move (Hebrews 12:2).
Denying yourself
We naturally want to give into our every whim, but praise takes discipline. When you deny yourself these impulses, you are communicating that time before God is more important than your desires (Matthew 16:24).
In contrast to over-the-top, fake worship, there are those who struggle with being vulnerable. They may be embarrassed to lift their hands or fall to their knees (even when they feel the tug of the Holy Spirit to do so), so they stand quietly and sing God's praises at a volume barely above that of a whisper. In these cases, it's important to remember that your worship should not be affected by what you believe others may think. Don't worry about looking silly. If it deepens your connection with God, go for it (Romans 1:16).
Worship isn't a Sunday morning only activity. It's a lifestyle. We cannot expect to lift our hands and sing His praises one day a week only. This will never facilitate growth. Our worship should overflow into every pore of our lives. I'm talking face on the floor, heart wide open, and tear soaked cheeks alone on a Tuesday night kind of overflow. If we do it on Sunday, we should do it on every other day that ends in the letter Y (Psalm 119:5-8 & v.164-168).
Worship isn't restricted to music and prayer. We praise God in many, many ways.
One of the best ways to serve God is to serve others (Philippians 2:3-4).
I can't stress enough the importance of this one. When we tithe, we are essentially telling God "I trust You."
What higher praise can we give than faith? (Psalm 4:5)
I'm so guilty of this. I've caught myself before wondering what the heck the person in front of me is doing. Why do they have to be so loud? Move so violently?
Because that's how they worship.
Realize that everyone's style of worshiping is their own. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Even if their dance moves are a little *ahem* unique.
Have respect for the styles of praise that others have adopted. If they are not physically harming you, it's none of your business. Focus on Jesus. He is the prize (1 Peter 2:17).

So go ahead. Run the aisles, jump up and down, shout His name at the top of your lungs; but do it for the glory of the One who sits on Heaven's throne.

"Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which 'comes upon you,' but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will to serve and obey the Lord."
- Graham Kendrick


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