“Where are my keys? Have you seen my cell phone?” I’m sure I’m not the only one to have misplaced important things that I use every day of my life. It’s incredibly easy to do. Even more often, I misplace my worship of Jesus Christ. How about you?
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them.”
– Deuteronomy 5:8-9a
When we misplace something, we leave it in a place where it’s forgotten instead of in a place where it’s supposed to be. My guess is that most people learn that if they have a designated place for everything, and keep those things in their places, their lives run much more smoothly. However, knowing something is true doesn’t mean we always practice it, does it? The same is true in our relationship with God. There’s a designated place for the worship of our hearts, and that place is Jesus Christ alone. When our worship is placed sincerely and simply in Him, our lives bear fruit for His glory. The apostle Paul surely had this in mind when he explained his concern and jealousy for the Corinthian church.
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).
God’s people may know this is true, but practicing it isn’t something we can do in our own power.
What is worship?
When we use the term worship, we usually think of singing songs to God during a worship service or devotion time. Giving adoration and praise to God is certainly one form of worship. But when God says, “You shall not worship them,” He has in mind what we do when we look to someone else to be the source of our happiness, contentment, significance, comfort, and love. Jesus’ rebuff to Satan’s temptation in the wilderness illustrates the concept of worship that I think God had in mind and that we should consider.
And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”
Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’” (Luke 4:5-8).
In Jesus’ mind, the devil was tempting Him to misplace His worship. Jesus understood that if He looked to the devil as the agent, source, or supplier for His life—instead of to His Father—He would sin against Him. For Jesus, worship entailed looking to His Father as the source of His life while being content with His timing and way of supply. If we are disciples of Christ, then we should adopt this same understanding of worship.
Perceiving worship in this way helps when it comes to living to love with Jesus. If we are to live to know God, love Him, and love with Jesus, we also must consider it a sin against God to worship or serve anything in the created realm. Our hearts must continually practice recognizing and resisting worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. Instead we look to Him as the source of life, happiness, contentment, significance, comfort, and love. Keeping your worship in its rightful place will make living to love possible, because God’s love flows through His people as they focus on His love, beauty, and goodness.
– An excerpt from Live to Love by Norm Wakefield