Worship Defined Part I: A Dry, Boring Look at the Lexicon
“Everything we do springs from our concept of what is important and valuable to us.” -Ray Stedman
I often find that the concept of worship is really misunderstood. Because the Church has instituted this form of shorthand in referring to our music time as “Worship” and our meeting times as a “Worship Service,” we have this idea in our heads that Worship is relegated to Sundays and the half hour of singing we do as a congregation. The problem with that definition is that it really fails miserably to encompass all that worship is. Just take a look at some of the words that are translated “worship” in the Bible:
Latreia: 1. Service rendered for hire.
a. Any service or ministration (the service of God)
2. The service and worship of God according to the
requirements of Levitical Law
3. To perform sacred services
Therapeuo: 1. To serve, do service
2. To heal, cure, restore to health
Doxa: 1. Opinion, judgement, view
2. A most glorious condition, most exalted state
‘atsab: 1. To shape, fashion, make, form into
‘abad: 1. To work, serve
sachah: 1. To bow down.
I don’t see a definition that says, “To sit or stand for 30 minutes while singing songs and occasionally clapping your hands.” “To fulfill an obligation” or “To sit in a pew.” What I do see in the definitions of worship is that it takes effort and isn’t necessarily easy. What becomes clear after a moment is that worship is a decision and an action. It’s not a feeling, it’s not an emotion, it’s not even music of any kind. Worship is a way of life.
Praise is a different animal entirely. The word “Praise” is translated from the Hebrew word halal which means “to shine, to act madly.” Another word used often is yadah (Seinfeld fans know how to say this one) which means, “to throw, shoot, cast; to give thanks, laud, praise; to confess the name of God; to confess sin.” The Greeks used a few words, most interestingly the word arete which is “A virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity.”
That last definition tells me that a morally excellent life is an act of praise, which by its definition means that it cannot take place only on Sunday morning. Living a life of praise and worship is a decision we make as Christ followers. It’s a garment we put on each and every day.
C.S. Lewis said, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists of shoving it all back, in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”
I’m trying not to make this too long and boring, but I admit, this one is pretty dry. Next time we’ll expand on what these boring definitions have to do with our actual lives and how their application transforms us from the inside out.