men attend worship services. The first man attends wholly out of a sense
of duty. He understands the teaching of Hebrews 10:25: "Not forsaking
the assembling of ourselves together,” and is determined to obey
faithfully that teaching. He will not allow any-thing within his power
to stand in the way of his attending the worship periods of the
The second man
recognizes his duty in this matter, too, but his primary motivation in
attendance is his love for the Lord and his joy in blending his voice
and heart with other Christians in praise and adoration to the Lord. He
delights in worship and the spiritual strength he derives through
The first man is
mentally passive throughout the worship service. If the words of the
song happen to catch his attention, he observes and appreciates them;
otherwise, he just sings along with little concern for what he is
singing. If the sermon is interesting, he listens; otherwise, he just
relaxes, and hopes the time won't drag too badly. He does meditate
briefly concerning Christ's suffering and death as he partakes of the
supper, for somehow the importance of the memorial feast has been
impressed upon his mind.
The second man comes
mentally prepared to worship. He pays close attention to the words of
each song and makes the sentiment of the songs his own sentiment. In
fact, he sometimes studies the words of frequently used songs so he will
be sure he understands their meaning. Depth of meaning is of greater
importance to him than a catchy tune or rhythmic beat. He listens to
each phrase of the prayer that is led, and if he can approve the
petitions of the prayer, he unites with the one who leads with his
"Amen." He discerns the Lord's body as he breaks bread, and he listens
carefully to the sermon, volunteering his attention, hiding the word in
his heart, that he might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). If his mind
wanders occasionally, he brings it back to the worship. He worships with
a consciousness of God as the object of his worship, the One toward whom
these expressions of adoration are directed.
The first man reduces
his service to a mere code of external rites, while the second man obeys
"from the heart," combining the outward with the inward. The first man
is more likely to be satisfied with his service to the Lord, for he has
accepted the easier standard, but it is the second man who enjoys God's
approval. "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in
spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
We ask the reader: "In
which of these two men do you see a reflection of yourself?" The need is
obvious! We must cast off our laziness and indifference, revitalize our
spirits, and bring ourselves to worship God acceptably. There is a
considerable difference between mere attendance of a worship service and
truly acceptable worship.
Two Men Try to Worship
by Bill Hall
Worship under the best of conditions can
sometimes be difficult. Distractions, human error, and sometimes funny
situations can occur to take one's attention away from the Lord.
Attitudes, however, can prove to be a major factor in acceptable (or
non-acceptable) worship. For instance ...
Two men sincerely try to worship. The first
man, though, is frustrated throughout. His frustrations begin with the
opening announcements when the man in charge takes ten minutes to say
what any normal man could say in three. He is hardly over that when the
song leader adds to his frustrations, selecting a song he is sure
contains an unscriptural phrase. The man who presides at the table
doesn't help when he uses the term "loaf" instead of "bread," and then
the man who is called on to "give thanks for the bread" gives thanks for
everything but the bread. The preacher makes a major contribution by
totally misapplying a passage of scripture ("He probably didn't spend
enough time on that one," the man thinks). When the worship period is
finally dismissed, he tries to share his frustrations with those around
him, but no one seems to care.
The second man observes many of the mistakes
the first man observes. In fact, without fanfare he just doesn't sing
the questionable phrase in the song and he silently thanks God for the
bread when he realizes the leader's failure to do so. But while
observing mistakes, he focuses attention on the good sentiments of the
songs that are used, and on the death of his Savior during the Lord's
Supper. He makes the prayer that is led his own and appreciates the good
thoughts presented in the lesson. He has come to worship God. He makes
allowances for human frailty on the part of the leaders in worship,
appreciates their sincere efforts, and refuses to let their mistakes
keep him from his purpose.
The first man is to be pitied. His ability
to "worship" is dependent on the ability of the leaders in the worship
period, and any half-observant person knows how inept that leadership
can be at times. He comes to worship, but spends the hour criticizing.
He blames others for that which is really his own problem. Consequently,
his problem with worship becomes a problem also with his brethren; but
one cannot have a problem with his worship and his brethren without
having a problem in his relationship with God.
The second man, by maintaining a positive
attitude toward his brethren, even when they make mistakes, is able to
worship acceptably and is drawn closer to God by his worship.
We are not condoning sloppily conducted
worship periods. Leaders in worship should seek to avoid mistakes and to
do their work effectively. But acceptable worship depends far more on
the heart and attitude of the worshiper than on the abilities of
leaders. Our first man may point the finger of blame at others, but his
real need is a total change of attitude within himself.