Performance Or Worship

“My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10 NKJV

As I watched my grand-daughter practice her piano lessons for a recital, I saw the importance of our attitude towards the practice of spiritual habits. At times, when my grand-daughter was asked to practice her piano, she would be a little grouchy as it felt like a task she had to do. It is necessary to practice in order to play well, but the focus on performance can take away the joy of playing the piano. It is only when we have a love for music that the habit of playing a musical instrument regularly will not be stressful but joyful with the music flowing out of us.

Likewise, God wants us to spend time with Him because we are His beloved and not His minions who are slavishly trying to please Him. It is not our acts of devotion but the attitude of our heart that brings joy to God. Following Christ is not a performance but a response to God’s invitation of love to get up and spend time with Him:

“My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away.” Song of Solomon 2:10 NKJV

God gave His Son to save us, not just from hell when we die, but from sin and for us to have a relationship with Jesus as our Divine Lover. When we read and meditate on the bible as God’s love letter to us, it will not be boring nor a chore.  We will delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night (Psalms 1:2, NLT).  God’s laws become our treasure:

“Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. I am determined to keep your decrees to the very end.” Psalms 119:111-‬112 NLT

Meditating on the bible is the expression of our wholehearted desire to seek God’s will. Before we can do so, our hearts need to opened by the Holy Spirit like Lydia:

“A woman named Lydia was present. She was a convert to Judaism from the city of Thyatira and sold purple dye for a living. She was listening because the Lord made her willing to pay attention to what Paul said.” Acts 16:14 GW

By grace, we will hunger and thirst for God’s Word. When we feed on God’s Word,  we will be led by the Spirit – like Paul and Silas – who were asked go to Macedonia for their first missionary journey:

“Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.” Acts of the Apostles 16:6-‬7 NLT

The attitude of our heart is of utmost importance for it is the filter that determines our reactions or responses to situations in life. The trials and tribulations of life reveals what is truly in our hearts. When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison after they were beaten in Philippi, they turned it into an opportunity to worship God instead of feeling sorry for themselves:

“After they had hit Paul and Silas many times, they threw them in jail and ordered the jailer to keep them under tight security. So the jailer followed these orders and put Paul and Silas into solitary confinement with their feet in leg irons. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:23-‬25 GW

I imagined Paul and Silas praying and singing the Psalms and sharing the gospel with the other prisoners. Their worship led to the miracle of the prison doors being opened and the loosening of the chains on the prisoners as well as the salvation of the prison jailer and his family:

“Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. All the doors immediately flew open, and all the prisoners’ chains came loose. The jailer woke up and saw the prison doors open. Thinking the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul shouted as loudly as he could, “Don’t hurt yourself! We’re all here!” The jailer asked for torches and rushed into the jail. He was trembling as he knelt in front of Paul and Silas. Then he took Paul and Silas outside and asked, “Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved.” They spoke the Lord’s word to the jailer and everyone in his home.” Acts 16:26-‬32 GW

These stories in the bible are to open our hearts and minds to the reality of God’s amazing grace. The bible is a record of God’s love for us and to remind us that evil seeks to draw us away from the love of God.  The bible reveals how God is drawing us back to Him through Jesus Christ and how we can remain in His redeeming love through the Holy Spirit.

There is a God shaped vacuum in our hearts that only Christ can fill but we have packed it with the idols of health, wealth and success.  The practice, not the performance, of the spiritual habits of silence and meditating on the bible are to draw us to the cross of Christ – to receive Christ as our righteousness. Then the fire of God’s love will purify our hearts from the sins of pride, greed and lust. Instead of living our old life of performing for God under the law, we become new creations filled with a new life of worship by grace. With hearts filled with the love of God, our hands and feet becomes Christ’s for Christ has no hands and feet but ours.  And God’s love with overflow from our lives as our lips are filled with praise:

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul, rejoice!

Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear


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