Cross Words: Genuine, heart-felt worship

By Isaiah Pauley - Cross Words

This week, I want us to look at Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19 from a different angle. In these verses, we not only see the importance of Christ-centered, congregational singing. But we also see the central place of the heart in worship.

John Calvin, a 16th century theologian, says, “The human heart is an idol factory.”

Notice what Jesus says about the heart: “‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person’” (Mark 7:20-23 ESV).

Genuine worship comes from the heart. So, there’s more to our worship than what we see. The substance of worship is more than instruments, songs, and services. David understands this. In a cry of repentance, he says, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17 ESV).

And this leads us back to Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19. Each of them end with a focus on the heart.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16 ESV).

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph. 5:18-19 ESV).

So, what does it mean to worship from the heart? How is Christ-centered, congregational singing related to heart-felt worship?

On any given Sunday, each of us are motivated to worship for some sort of reason. It might be a sense of obligation. It might be a false belief that God grants physical rewards to those who worship Him. It might even be a false idea of justification. Maybe someone feels as if participating in worship results in salvation. But none of these are right reasons to worship God. Instead, our worship should be fueled by love. Our motivation should be a heart that longs for Him.

But our hearts are always worshipping someone or something. Whether it be God or not, something is always churning and brewing adoration. It might be a successful career. Maybe it’s a relationship. Sometimes, we even find ourselves worshipping certain hobbies. And none of those things satisfy us like Christ can.

We can gather on a Sunday morning, sing great songs, read tons of Scripture, and pray elaborate prayers. But if our hearts aren’t right with God, something is off.

In Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19, Paul is helping us see the connection between genuine worship and the motivation of our hearts. My prayer is that we approach God like David does in Psalm 51. May we come with a repentant heart, asking God to forgive us of our idols.

Allow me to end with some words from a familiar hymn: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above.”

May we come to God with genuine, heart-felt worship.

By Isaiah Pauley

Cross Words

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.