“If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” I Corinthians 13:1
What tongue do both angels and men have in common? Music. The angles and elders worship around the throne.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
In heaven the shared tongue is perfect because it has perfect love as its object of worship.
We on earth also have been given the gift of music as an instrument of worship, but so many times we don’t use it as a voice of love for God and it becomes noise.
The voice of love for God and man can have gilded edges of heavenly perfection when our hearts are in perfect communion with God and man. But so many times we bang our gongs and cymbals because we are part of the worship team or some other form of “service” and our hearts are far from the Lord of heaven and earth.
We are to do all to the glory of God. He doesn’t require a perfect performance, a specific type of music or the approval of man, but rather a broken and contrite heart deeply in love with Him.
As in communion, we are commanded to let the plate pass if our hearts are not right, or to leave our gift at the alter and be reconciled to the one with whom we have a broken relationship; so too, it is our responsibility as worshipers and servants of God to do this before we come into worship. We must come pre-prepared to worship God on Sunday mornings and our mid-week services. We are labourers together with God (I Corinthians 3:9) and we must abide with God, if our congregations and our world are going to see God’s face and be led to the throne of grace. We are called to a work that God has ordained in advance for us to do and we are to do it to the Glory of God alone. (Ephesians 2:10)
Oswald Chambers, “ We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notion as to what God is fitting us for. God engineers everything; wherever He puts us, our one great aim is to pour out a whole hearted devotion to Him in that particular work. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”
What does this look like for a church worship team, an elder board, Sunday school teachers, or those sitting in the pews? For me it means that I do all to the glory of God, not as a man pleaser but as a God pleaser. It means I diligently seek His face in worship at home and not just corporately. It means I let Him lead in the areas in which He has called me to serve and I prepare myself to do this service to the best of my ability. However, when all this is done, I must come before God’s throne only concerned that my heart is lined up with His heart and whether I am worshiping in Spirit and in Truth.
This is a high calling: the worship of the King of kings, and not one that should be taken for granted or as an entitlement because one has a voice, or a musical talent, or the ability to teach. It is about one’s heart and not about the technical skill one possesses, but about the love one must pour out for God. If this is why we serve God, to be a poured out drink offering to the Almighty, then our service is a sweet-smelling fragrance on His sacrificial altar.
Sacrifice costs. Worship team requires sacrifice. Preaching requires sacrifice. Serving in the nursery requires sacrifice. It should be a joy to sacrifice for Jesus. If the cost is not one we are willing to pay with a hilarious and extravagant heart, in light of all He has sacrificed for us, then we must evaluate our love relationship with the Lord. We must truthfully ask God, as the Psalmist did,
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24
Christians should only be concerned with God looking over our shoulders and into our hearts and seek His approval alone, not the worlds. When one worries about what other’s think, one loses the “heart of worship”, and the focus becomes self centered and not God centered. We should as a church desperately desire to be face down, poured out in the worship of our Savior and Lord. He should be our audience of One.
Angels worship around the throne and we too should be worshiping at His feet, moment by moment offering a sacrifice of praise. It is our shared language, the praise of our King. Brother Lawrence said, “We should dedicate ourselves to becoming in this life the most perfect worshipers of God we can possibly be.” The time we spend loving our Lord extravagantly, worshiping as He alone deserves, will ultimately catch the attention of men, but it will be because they see God holiness radiating through us and not our feeble attempts to do good works for the sake of service.
Sing praise to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever! Sing praise!