What the First Sibling Spat Teaches Us About...Worship

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What was the trait that Cain lacked causing God to reject his sacrifice?

The thing about worshiping God is, only one of us can be in control at a time. Worshiping Him pushes me off the throne I’ve invented, and into the proper position—creature adoring her Creator.

A literal translation of the word worship is: to prostrate, crouch, to kiss (like a dog licking his master’s hand), to adore. Worship is getting low before God—it’s the heart condition which recognizes God’s status. It’s a disposition of humility that acknowledges He is God and I am NOT.

But worship is more than just getting low before God. It’s getting low because of admiration. Getting low with a heart that’s filled with adoring love for One who far exceeds me in every way.

So what does worship look like in real life?

I think a starting place is making hard choices of obedience.

Remember what the first sibling spat was over? The first one we see in Scripture, anyway—was over worship! Cain’s approach to worship seems to have been a little flippant—like the perspective that following God is no big deal...I’m not going to become a fanatic or do anything too costly. His approach led to a worship offering of his own invention—not the offering God required. He took a short-cut when it came to offering worship and exploded in jealousy when God accepted his brother’s offering over his.

Apparently, obedience matters a lot when it comes to worship!

Obedience to God demonstrates His position and value.

Thankfully, we’re no longer under the Old Testament system of worship that requires slaughtering any animals. But our acts of worship do require a kind of death. It is self-death; the death to self sitting on the throne. It is crucifying self as the “god of my life” and bowing to God as the supreme and only Sovereign.

Worship is saying “no” to my self-centered way of operating and “yes” to God’s way; demonstrating that God is God and I’m not. He’s in charge. He’s worthy of my obedience.

What is worship? Well, it can be:

  • taking time out of your busy schedule to listen to a friend in need
  • swallowing your pride to receive rebuke from a wise counselor
  • giving your spot in the check-out line to the weary mom with four preschoolers
  • keeping your commitment to your employer
  • speaking the truth in love when your flesh wants to lash out

Don’t misunderstand—I’m not saying that worship is simply checking the box of good conduct. True worship comes from a heart which practices self-denial and obedience out of love for God—not from performing noble deeds with pride-filled motives. But if the actions I listed above are God’s mission for you today, then these acts of obedience are a fragrant offering.

We could sum up the action of worship in two words: Loving God.

What greater form of adoration is there than love?

And what did Jesus say is the greatest commandment? Love—for God and for others. What connection did Jesus make between love and obedience?

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

If we worship God through loving Him...and loving Him translates into obedience in our daily activities, how can you worship Him today?

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