1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1 – 2)
Theme: If not You, then Who?
Since we have a bona fide Old Testament scholar in our group (Dr. Anthony Oliver), I feel emboldened to make a point about the Hebrew words for worship in the Old Testament. If I get something wrong, Dr. Oliver can correct me 😊. I hope you have been benefiting from his insightful comments along with the insightful comments of others.
The Hebrew word that’s often translated as worship in the Old Testament is shachah (pronounced shah-KHAH), which literally means to bow down before. However, there is another word for worship in the Old Testament, avodah (pronounced ah-vo-DAH). Interestingly, avodah also means work and service.
In the view of some Biblical scholars, the multiple meanings of “avodah” emphasize the fact that we can worship God through our work/service. Years ago, I developed a reminder to help me maintain perspective at work – “let your work be your worship but do not worship your work”. It was a reminder to me that ultimately God is my boss and also a caution not to become a workaholic. I believe this concept is consistent with the popular passage above from Romans 12 where we are urged by the Apostle Paul to worship God with all we have.
- How do you assess success in worshiping God through your work/service?
- While God’s opinion is ultimately what matters, are there any helpful cues that you get from those you interact with (Christians or non-Christians) that your work/service reflects worship of God?
March 9, 2021 at 4:33 am
“Let your work be your worship but do not worship your work.” Thanks for this reminder Norman. Daily I endeavor to illustrate my love and worship for God in my daily activities. I’ll be honest, I’m more successful on some days than others. Once guided by the Holy Spirit, if I’ve given a task, project or activity “100”, then I hope and pray that I have glorified and illustrate God.
Addressing and resolving a challenging situation, where the parties are pleased, or at a minimum, satisfied with the outcome, is a cue for me that God’s work has been done.
March 9, 2021 at 5:35 am
In this time of pandemic, churches started on line worship service, and it’s even possible now to attend on line service at churches in different countries with different time zone. For example I can attend a service on line at my church in the morning here in Japan and then at night , I can attend a service (Live) in my daughter’s church in Canada, or at my former church in T&T. This is so far what is going on in many countries now. Here in Japan from the beginning of 2021, I attend church physically like once or twice a month, or when it’s my duty to be a greeter and/or helper at the children’s nursery/Sunday School, (these are the volunteer work I’ve been doing for my church here in Japan for the past years) and because Japan is under state of emergency till the end of this month due to Covid 19, my attendance physically at church declined as compared before when life was normal and without Covid 19. Being physically at church on Sundays with other believers is of course the way, I’m used to, But now I’m getting accustomed to be in the quiet living room of my home while attending on line service all by myself. I guess I’mnot the only one in Japan (or even in other countries) who long for the normal life we all had before. I also miss the fellowship with the ladies from my bible study group which was used to be held at church. Now only by zoom meeting. Last year’s summer the Vacation Bible Study event we usually hold every year, and I always volunteer to help was also cancelled. Here in Japan face mask is a MUST to wear all the time especially when attending worship service. Sorry, I’m kind of not sure how to answer the question of assessing the success of my worship through service. I used to be in the church choir too, and I feel it was one way of serving the Lord, singing praises to Him especially I loved singing worship songs for Easter and Christmas. We have no more choir now, and I miss the choir practices and singing with the congregation. I know my love for the Lord and his love for me hasn’t changed at all, and I surely worship Him in my own way at home, and in my daily life, that will remain the same. God’s Love is constant. Perhaps, I just miss the normal church service we used to have, no masks, no hand sanitizer before entering church…. no worries about Covid19.
March 9, 2021 at 4:41 pm
Hi Aurora – Your assessment of worship through the lens of the pandemic impact is very helpful. Even though you were not sure if your were answering the question, by attempting to answer you have added an interesting dimension. In my view, the pandemic has made it clearer that worship needs to be considered outside of the physical walls of the church. In evaluating the appropriateness of our worship, therefore, we can’t simply see worship through the lens of a church service. It goes much much deeper than that. Our assessment must be a 7-days of the week assessment. When we take that broader perspective, the question is, how is our worship? How well do we worship God when we are working, or doing acts of service at home, in an office or in other public settings?
March 9, 2021 at 8:32 am
My temperament when stressed, tired or up against a deadline is a gauge for how successful I am in letting my actions be a testimony.
God is the boss but I know He wants me to use the gifts He has given me so I do my best and help others grow and learn in areas I have strengths and have a willingness to learn from others where I have gaps.
March 9, 2021 at 8:45 am
Assessing my success in worshiping God through work and service is an important aspect of Christian service. At least three factors ought to be considered. First, feedback from the communities in which I serve, that is, workplace or educational institution (students), and the family. Second, seeking to discern what God’s evaluation of my work / service. God designed work for humans before the fall. In the Book of Proverbs the people of God are engaged outside the religious building, that is, in the home, community and market place. Third, periodic honest self- evaluation.
The first factor mentioned above points to the importance of the fair and honest opinion of people with whom we interact regarding our work as worship to God. The perspective shared in the post by Elder Norman Christie is very inspiring. He said : “let your work be your worship but do not worship your work”. Indeed, it is part of letting our light shine before people so that they will see and glorify our Faither in heaven.
March 9, 2021 at 10:20 am
How do you assess success in worshiping God through your work/service?
In a word, when it is truly about HIM and not about me. When it is truly for HIS glory and not mine (“the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer 17:9)”). When it is in line with HIS priorities, not mine. When it is LIFE-giving (there is a certain “illogical”passion) not life-robbing.
While God’s opinion is ultimately what matters, are there any helpful cues that you get from those you interact with (Christians or non-Christians) that your work/service reflects worship of God?
First I would say that in my experience God uses both Christians and non-Christians in this regard. On the positive side, there are words of gratitude and/or praise and at times questions concerning motivation. More so is when there is a following, a recognisable positive influence or impact on surrounding lives. On the negative side, would be comments around a less than healthy “work/life balance” (which of course God does not call us to) or when a brother’s approach to an issue is much more prayerful than mine, this can be convicting.
March 9, 2021 at 7:38 pm
I am mindful that I am a reflection of Jesus Christ and I try to keep doing better. Where I would have otherwise cut corners, when I remember Jesus, I reconsider my approach. People have praised me for my work, attitude and big heartedness ( a shocker). I’ve also been appreciated by my local church. So by the grace of God, I am doing some things right.
I have also attracted criticism for my vocalism on some of the topics of the day. I sometimes wonder if I should be less vocal on some of the hot button issues because it arouses negative emotions. I question whether I glorify God by getting too involved in these topics and I wonder what is appropriate for the Christian in terms of speaking out on certain things that I believe is wrong in our society.
March 9, 2021 at 10:11 pm
Ayana – I think I understand your dilemma regarding hot topics. I find myself in the same place too, especially with the political topics. That’s when I have to really test if I am living up to the principle of speaking the truth in love. I think I tend to fail on the love part more than the truth part. Sometimes courage is required to stay silent and sometimes it is required to speak up. No answer here, just a recognition of the struggle.
March 9, 2021 at 8:03 pm
Initially, I never thought about assessing success in worshiping God through my work/service as I simply did not like mediocrity so I saw my aim for excellence as a natural part of my ‘persona,’ based on how I was brought up, especially being greatly influenced by a perfectionistic Mom who was affirmed 100% by my Dad! However, over the years I have become more convinced that my Mom’s biblical reminder about doing whatever my task was “as unto the Lord” was the main criterion for measuring success spiritually and otherwise. “Be the best of whatever you are” was another of my parents’ timeless advice so it naturally had a great impact on my life, holistically. At times, I may not get 100 % spiritually or otherwise but I do my best “as unto the Lord.” Moving beyond parental influence though (if that’s possible!), now I realize that my success in worshiping God through my work/service is strongly impacted by viewing God’s love and mercy as crucial in determining how I walk spiritually and how I work and/or support His work in various ways.
With regard to helpful cues from others that my work/service reflects worship of God, some persons actually verbalize the ways in which I touch their lives in many ways, including how I treat them on the job or elsewhere. Some are very apologetic if they said something inappropriate or even obscene and realized that I perhaps heard them from where I was as I showed up unexpectedly at the door. I know what it is to be approaching a ‘carousing scene’ during break, only for a boisterous, very angry student to apologize to me if I heard what he said as he never saw me coming! The shocking news is that he was telling a teacher expletives! When I gently and calmly spoke to the student and asked him to apologize to the teacher, and that he should have respect for God first of all, and for himself and others, including his teachers, he quipped, ‘Miss, I will apologize to YOU as I didn’t see you coming, Miss but not to HER! Respect begets respect and you treat us with respect but some of them don’t treat us with any respect so we don’t respect them either!” He grudgingly and unwillingly apologized to the teacher, remarking that it was only because of me why he did. That was quite a lesson for me. Being an ambassador for Christ, you don’t even know that you are “monitored” all the time. I could recount many other incidents or give cues but thank God for helping me to make my work/service reflect my worship of Him, including giving back overpayment when transacting business or refusing to accept bribes (and believe me this is real even in schools!), or refusing to collude with others to tell lies or to simply lie independently.
March 9, 2021 at 10:03 pm
I simply am a person who tries hard to be good and show Love.
God is Love as my mother would say.
I listen patiently to problems and I help as much as I could.
My sub teaching can be demeaning as pays very little but I believe I am humbly doing it to help the students.
The little ones see me outside and you can see them smile etc.