If you’ve spent any length of time in a Christian community, you’ve probably heard the terms “praise” and “worship” linked hand-in-hand. In fact, in some circles, they’re considered synonymous. However, while it’s part of our faith-walk to both praise our Creator and to worship Him, these aspects of Christian life are not exactly the same—and they’re not necessarily carried out in the same fashion, either.
Praise to God is often done through song, prayer, and, yes, acts of worship; but as “praise” and “worship” have blended together through Christendom over the years, some of the poignancy of the sole act of worship has been lost—watered down to the exact same steps as “giving praise.”
Dictionary.com defines “worship” in several ways, including “to feel an adoring reverence or regard; reverent honor and homage paid to a deity.” In a more archaic sense, however, worship was defined as “honor given to someone in recognition of their merit.”
This leads me to ask, “In what way to do we honor God in recognition of His merit?” Since we are called to worship, it’s important for us to realize that worship is not just something we do in Sunday Morning Church for fifteen minutes before the sermon; worship is a lifestyle, it’s something we should be doing every day – and we can train our minds to be aware of how we honor God in our daily actions. Here are just three examples of worship in day-to-day life:
- One of the primary ways we can worship is in the ultimate way in which Adam and Eve first dropped the ball; we obey. Heartfelt obedience is one of the ultimate forms of worship, because it’s the very act of reverence and honor, carried out; it is a state of complete soul-submission to the One whose plans and purposes are higher, clearer, and better than ours. It’s also the active evidence of trust; without it, it’s impossible to please God. We also live a life of worship by obeying even when we don’t want to…when our sin nature pulls us to do something else. Actively striving to obey our Heavenly Father and to heed His desires is an act of worship that honors Him for all He has done for us (Rom 12:1).
- Another way in which we express worship for our Creator is by utilizing the gifts He has given us. Jesus rebuked the act of hiding a light under a bushel (basket), and he encouraged his followers to “let their light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) We honor, and therefore worship, our Heavenly Father when we use the talents He has entrusted us with to further His kingdom, enrich the lives of those around us, and ultimately lead others to also follow Him.
- We can also worship through work. One of the pitfalls we can fall into is to think that in order to worship God with our acts of work (or service), we must work in some “Christian” capacity, like a ministerial or pastoral profession. But just as worship is not contained to the field of praise, work done in service to God is not limited to “Doing the Lord’s Work.” My favorite verse is Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” This means that whether someone is a janitor, accountant, or CEO—whether deskwork, homesteading, or management—we all have the exact same opportunities to worship and honor God through our attitude and ethic. When we labor in love and with a servant’s attitude, putting others before ourselves and behaving in a way that reflects the nature of Christ in us and of the One we serve, we are worshipping and honoring God with our very way of being.
We can also worship God in a myriad of other ways including recreation, relationship, creativity, and a whole host of other ways. I deeply encourage you to look closely at your own life – to find the areas where you can use your gifts, your time, your energy, your obedience and relationships and creativity, to honor your Heavenly Father. Such acts of worship are a blessing to God and to others, and these are just some of the numerous ways that we can give our Creator the honor He so greatly deserves.