Friday, August 25, 2023

Holy Reverence in Worship (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3)

"Walk prudently when you go to the house of God" (Eccl. 5:1).

Do you enter public worship distracted by worldly concerns? Do the preacher’s words fly in one ear and out the other, leaving no discernible impression on your mind and heart? Do you find it difficult to concentrate in prayer because your thoughts so easily wander? There is probably not a Christian reading this study who has not experienced distraction and coldness of heart in worship and prayer.

Tragically, however, many attend church week after week without realizing the vanity of their own worship. They might sense that something is wrong, but instead of looking inward, they cast the blame on everything else. The pastor isn’t interesting enough. The music doesn’t stir the emotions enough. Etc., etc., etc. If these complaints sound familiar, maybe you need to examine your own heart instead of trying to find aesthetic or sentimental satisfaction in those things that are not the essence of worship. A wise Christian once said the church would find true spiritual vitality if only it were gripped by the holiness of God in worship. This is exactly what the Preacher is driving at. He exhorts God’s people to stand in awe of God. Worship should never be entered into with levity or distraction, but with sobriety, humility, and reverence. You should enter into God’s presence ready to receive profitable instruction: “Draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil” (Eccl. 5:1b).

David’s psalms are deeply concerned with proper worship: “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those who are around Him” (Ps. 89:7); “Holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever” (Ps. 93:5); “But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple” (Ps. 5:7).

As you come before the Lord in public worship, set your affections and your full attention on the person of Jesus Christ, who alone sanctifies our worship. Endeavor to rid yourself of vain and worldly thoughts and distractions. Focus on the Lord and not on the inadequacy of the preacher, or the music, or anything else. Be captivated by the holiness of God. Listen to His instruction and discover the glorious blessings of dwelling in His presence.

This Saturday night, pray that God will prepare your heart for worship and keep you from being distracted. When you wake up Sunday, read Psalm 95 and pray for God to draw you to Himself. Leave for church on time. Fellowship with others when you arrive, but refrain from worldly talk. Focus on God in worship.