True Worship

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

God loves to be worshipped — to have the praise, the adoration, and the homage of His children. In the olden days burning incense was the symbol of worship; its odours rose up toward heaven, and God smelled a sweet savour. What the fragrance of flowers coming up from dew anointed fields and gardens is to us, the breath of true worship as it ascends from earth’s believing hearts is to God. God is well pleased with it. He is not satisfied with bare, cold obedience. What parent would be content with mere dutifulness, such as a slave might render to a master, without affection, confidence, regard? God cannot be pleased with the most scrupulous external obedience if there be no heart in it. We must obey Him because we love Him.

This word tells us also how we may worship God if our worship is to be acceptable. It must be spiritual worship that we render Him. Stately forms please Him not in themselves. The music of splendid choirs and the repeating of creeds and prayers do not make worship. Worship is heart adoration, and the only true homage that rises from an assembly or from a private closet where one bows alone is just the love and praise and prayer and devotion of hearts ascending in the words of human lips. No mere forms of worship are acceptable; the form must be breathed full of love and life. No offerings or gifts avail in worship unless they are the expression of holy affections.

The teaching is not that we are not to use forms of worship; we cannot well worship without forms. The baldest ritual and the tamest ceremonial will be pleasing to God if heart’s love fill them; but the most magnificent ritual will be empty of real worship, and will be an abomination to God, if there be no true worship of the spirit in it. All depends upon what we put into the forms.