In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), Jesus taught that citizenship in the kingdom of heaven requires righteousness, not religiosity. Yet in Matthew 6, Jesus taught how righteous people should do religious stuff. Jesus gave instructions about the most Godward of acts: giving, prayer, and fasting (Matt. 6:1–18). He warned that we must be careful not to do these things to be seen by people. The consequence of offering worship for human consumption is severe: “You have already received your reward” (see v. 16). Jesus repeatedly admonishes us to do acts of worship before God in private. These admonitions do not forbid public, corporate acts of worship.
They warn us that worship must not become a platform to perform for people. It does not matter what people see, think, or say. It only matters that the Lord is pleased.
“Make sure the Lord is pleased with your relationships.”
More than a century ago, worshipers filled the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn one Sunday to hear its famous pastor, Henry Ward Beecher. They were disappointed to find that Henry’s less prominent brother, Thomas K. Beecher, filled the pulpit that day. People began to get up and walk out. As many headed for the doors, Thomas stood in the pulpit and announced, “All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church, but all who came to worship God may remain.” Jolted to their senses, chastised worshipers returned to their pews.
May we never forget that we gather not to please ourselves or to please others. We worship to please the Lord. The anonymous author of Hebrews issued this call to worship: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb. 13:15–16).
Make sure the Lord is pleased with your life.
Make sure the Lord is pleased with your offering.
Make sure the Lord is pleased with your motives.
Make sure the Lord is pleased with your attitude.
Make sure the Lord is pleased with your relationships.
 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 407–8.
by H. B. Charles, Jr.
What does it mean to worship—especially in spirit and truth? Christians hear the word “worship” a lot. From singing hymns and...
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