Worship is to offer a message of respect and submission. The main idea of the Greek word(s) is to “kiss the ground before” the object of worship. Worship is a part of and a demonstration of our total submission to the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior.
In the early days of mankind as recorded in Genesis we have an event that demonstrates the respect and submission that worship is to be. “In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.” (Genesis 4:3-5).
Why did God reject Cain’s worship and accept Abels? The writer of Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” (Hebrews 11:4) Abel offered his sacrifice (worship) according to faith. Both Cain and Abel appear to believe in the existence of God, so there must be something about their sacrifice that is different.
The difference lies in what Moses records in Genesis. “Cain brought . . . an offering of the fruit of the ground.” The wording leads me to believe Cain just grabbed up some vegetables and herbs and thought, “God wants a sacrifice, I’ll give him this.” Maybe they were overripe or they were vegetables he did not like. Maybe he did just did not look them over and grabbed something. Could Cain’s mindset be, I’ll do this, but only because I have too.
Contrast that with Abel who “. . . brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Abel thought this through. Maybe he thought, “God is worthy of all that I am. I will give Him what He expects – my best and the first of what He blesses me with.”
With that story as serving as background knowledge let’s consider four goals of worship:
- Proclaim the Lord. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) When we participate in Communion (The Lord’s Supper) we are proclaiming the Lord’s death. We also proclaim the Lord to our neighbors when they know we are assembling to worship. We proclaim the Lord to each other as we worship.
- Praise the Lord. “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Hebrews 13:15). When we sing, when we pray or say “amen” to a public prayer we are offering a sweet smelling aroma of praise to the Lord.
- Teach and admonish each other. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16). By our singing, by our presence in worship assemblies, and by our attention to the presentation of God’s word, we are teaching those around us and helping them to remain faithful.
- Build each other up. “Let all things be done for building up.” (1 Corinthians 14:26c). “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25). My participation in worship edifies the church.
Are we more like Abel or Cain?
- If I am not participating but letting others worship for me . . .
- If you are half-hearted in singing or prayer . . .
- If I am exiting the assembly regularly and distracting others . . .
- If you are not singing out . . .
Then, how are we meeting these four goals?
I challenge you to sing out. I challenge you to not be afraid to say “amen.” I encourage you to give 110% as you worship. I challenge you to be an Abel.
Be like Abel!