These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. In vain do they worship Me… (Mark 7:6, MEV).
If we could stop and think about it for a minute… We sing some pretty scary stuff during worship: “My life is not my own. To You I belong. I give myself. I give myself to you.” Or, “Fill me up, God. Fill me up, God…. Less of me; more of You.”
Do we mean them? The words. Do we mean them?
Like, is submission and obedience to the Lord our sincere heart’s cry and true desire?
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” Obey Me. Do as I have asked of you. Keep My Word. Be holy as I am holy. Be humble and serve, as I am humble and have served. Then I will know you love Me.
Obedience is what ministers love to God’s heart. The self-denying act of obeying and submitting to God is His love language. (Thank you, Christine Caine! #GC15)
We can talk about sacrifice if we want to, but He has already said that that is not what He wants. Yet we keep thinking that we are doing something He wants when we sacrifice our time, talents, or treasures in some capacity. Listen, if we are in a place or doing a task that God has not assigned us to, we are sacrificing in vain.
From King David, the one who spoke God’s love language (the man after God’s own heart):
For You do not desire sacrifice, or I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:16, MEV).
And from the prophet Samuel (this might hurt):
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? [I would insert the answer, NO, here] To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV).
Brokenness. Contrition. Obedience. God’s love language. The end.
So it’s nice that you wake up at 5:30 every Sunday morning to get to your 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. worship rehearsal. Is it easy for you to do that? Probably not. Would we call something like that a sacrifice? Perhaps. But are you broken? Are you broken enough to sing “I give myself away so You can use me,” and still say, “Yes, God,” in your spirit when the song you usually lead has been given to someone else this week? Or, you’re not on first string for acoustic? Or, for this big worship event someone else is going to drum?
Those are tough changes to swallow for passionate music creatives like us. But realize these may be the changes God desires so that He can bring about His plan in our lives and in the lives of the people our teams minister to.
Prayerfully times of fasting and prayer make it easier for our spirits to find joy in the times when God graces us with the opportunity to be humbled. Being humbled at critical times in our journey with God is a gift and blessing. Let. Him. Do. It. And, worshiper, you will count it all joy. (See James 1:2.)
We’ve made our decision to give our lives to God, to let Him order our steps. Our lives are no longer our own. We will be shifted and moved around in ways that will bring us so low. Count it all joy. Count it as a measure of grace and favor over your life. Count it a blessing that God would be kind enough to work things in your life to keep you from pride and self-worship.
You really can’t fully know the things He is ultimately preparing you for, so don’t be so quick to find offense when things don’t go how you thought they should have. Eyes have not seen; ears have not heard the things that God has prepared for those who love (who obey and submit to) Him.
This is the spiritual challenge put out there by God for every worshiper who dares to embark on a journey of fasting and prayer: “Let Me increase in you. Less of you, My child, and more of Me. Let Me be lifted up in your life that I may draw humankind to Myself. Let Me make you fit to carry My glory in the earth.”
Do not let your worship be vain. Do not sing your songs without real commitment to what they mean. Do not come before the Lord with lip service. But let your worship come from a place full of the Spirit and truth—truth that God really does reign in your life, truth that your life really has been given away to Him so He can use you.
Jevon Bolden is a mom, full-time book editor, and worship leader with her husband, Will Bolden, at Glad Tidings Church in Orlando, FL. She loves God’s Word and finds joy when people are brought to new life in God’s presence. Connect with Jevon on Twitter, Instagram, and jevonbolden.com.